Further doubt has been cast over the future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory after the company’s owners announced that several new models will be built at French manufacturing plants.
PSA, today announced that ‘new vehicles’ will be built at factories in Sochaux and Mulhouse, in eastern France.
The company will not reveal the details of these vehicles for ‘strategic reasons’, but there is speculation that the next-generation Astra could be one of those new cars.
Since the Brexit vote, various reports have suggested that PSA will move production away from the UK to streamline production and increase profits.
The fire has now been fuelled by PSA’s confirmation that production of these new models will begin between 2020 and 2022, which is expected to be the end of the current Astra’s lifecycle, and that these vehicles will be based on the group’s EMP2 platform, which currently underpins the Astra-sized Peugeot 308.
It is thought that PSA may cut development costs by basing the next Astra on the same architecture as the 308.
With more than 35,000 people employed by Vauxhall in the UK – and around 4,500 of those employed in the company’s Ellesmere Port and Luton factories – closures could lead to substantial job losses.
Vauxhall refused to comment directly on today’s announcement, but a spokesperson said: ‘For the time being, [the PSA announcement] doesn’t change anything for us. It’s business as usual at our plants in Britain and that’s all we can say on the matter.’