Today Vauxhall and sister company Opel celebrated the official start of Astra Sports Tourer production at its plant in Ellesmere Port.
The first vehicle to roll off the production line in Cheshire was an Elite 1.6CDTi, in Flip Chip Silver.
Jubilant plant workers were joined by Peter Thom, General Motors’ Vice President Global Manufacturing and Stefan Fesser, Ellesmere Port Plant Director. Thom was visiting to hand over the 2015 Winner for Safety award, won by the plant. Fesser also collected 2015 Winner for Vauxhall/Opel Astra Hatchback Launch awarded by Jim Deluca, Executive Vice President and Thom. Thanks to the outstanding attitude and work ethic of the employees, the plant beat world-class competition from across Europe to build the new car.
The Ellesmere Port Plant is a significant contributor to the local and national economies building over five million vehicles since 1964. The factory is a major exporter with 52 per cent of production going to 25 European markets. At full production it is estimated the plant will build around 680 cars per day and 120,000 per year.
UK firms, including those in manufacturing, utilities, construction, transportation and storage, benefit from almost £70 million gross value added directly from Vauxhall’s investment in Ellesmere Port.*
“This first Astra Sports Tourer marks another milestone in the great history of Vauxhall manufacturing in the North-West,” said Rory Harvey, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “The all-new Astra is of critical importance to Vauxhall and its manufacturing facility in Ellesmere Port. I’m very proud of the men and women who build this vehicle to world class levels of quality and productivity.”
Like its five-door hatch sibling, the Sports Tourer is based on an all-new lightweight vehicle architecture with a new design, powertrains and technology.
The Sports Tourer further extends the dynamic lines of the five-door. The slightly arched sloping roofline gives the Sports Tourer a longer appearance, an effect that is further enhanced by the divided C-pillar. The rear view combines high functionality with elegant design. The Sports Tourer has a stable, robust and safe stance, the muscular rear-wheel arch contours and the divided rear light clusters add to this impression.
The latest generation Sports Tourer has the same dimensions as the outgoing model with a length of 4,702mm, a width of 1,871mm (with exterior mirrors folded in) and a height of 1,499mm – however, it offers much more space for passengers and luggage. The driver can enjoy 26mm of additional headroom, passengers in the rear have 28mm more, providing more space and comfort. The Sports Tourer’s total cargo capacity is now 1,630 litres, thanks to more efficient packaging.
The powertrain portfolio features petrol and diesel units ranging from 100PS to 200PS, including an all-new 1.4-litre (150PS) ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo and the recently-launched 1.6-litre CDTi Whisper Diesel. The 200PS version of the 1.6-litre ECOTEC petrol will celebrate its world premiere at Frankfurt.
Depending on the model and trim level it is up to 200kg lighter than its predecessor. The completely new vehicle architecture plays a major role in the weight reduction. Every component was checked for compact design and lightweight materials. The body shell weight alone was reduced by 20 per cent from 357kg to 280kg.
The Astra Sports Tourer also features OnStar, the ground-breaking connectivity technology now available across Europe. OnStar includes high-speed 4G LTE mobile network, emergency response notification and stolen vehicle recovery alert. The Sports Tourer is also one of the first vehicles from a mainstream manufacturer to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available through a new version of the IntelliLink infotainment system.
*Source: Centre for Economics and Business Research