With an agreed £1.9 billion sale of General Motors-owned Vauxhall/Opel to the Peugeot Citreon group, understandably the focus has now moved on to the fate of the Astra plant in Ellesmere Port.
However, we should be reassured that the UK car industry is not the same today as it was in the 80s and 90s. Gone are the days of British car manufacturing being nothing more than a ‘sick man of Europe’. In 2012, the plant in Ellesmere Port was under threat of closure. However, it was soon revealed that the Cheshire plant was producing 47 cars per hour compared to only 30 at its sister plant in Bochum, Germany.
It may be true that it is logistically easier to close a factory in the UK compared to France or Germany, but economic arguments don’t lie. Cheaper business tax rates, more flexible workforces and greater political stability has already secured the investment of VW-owned Bentley in Crewe, Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover in Merseyside, and Nissan in the north east.
Vauxhall’s new owners will soon see that the smart money is on keeping their plants in the UK open for business for the long term.
Louise Bours MEP