Friday, 5 July 2013
Car and van records flow at Vauxhall
Vauxhall’s two UK manufacturing plants have both reached production milestones. The 250,000 Astra Sports Tourer rolled off the production line at Ellesmere Port and the Luton facility built its 900,000 Vivaro-type van.
Yesterday, workers at Ellesmere Port, Britain’s number one manufacturer of estate cars, held a celebration at the end of the production line as the quarter of a millionth Astra Sports Tourer, the UK’s best-selling estate car, was driven off the production line. Over 2.8 million Astra vehicles have been sold since it went on sale in 1980 with 30,000 sold alone this year.
The Sports Tourer is assembled solely at Ellesmere Port for export across Europe; this reflects the depth of Vauxhall’s engineering and manufacturing excellence in the UK.
Its upper-body structure was completely engineered by Vauxhall engineers based at Millbrook, Bedfordshire with key dynamic elements tuned for UK roads by the same team. Production of the current model started in 2010.
Then, less than 24 hours later, the Luton plant’s 900,000 Vivaro was handed over to the AA, one of Vauxhall’s biggest customers.
Vauxhall is the UK’s leading commercial vehicle maker, a position the manufacturer has held for eleven years since Vivaro production started. Vivaro is the lynchpin of Vauxhall’s top-selling van range. Over 150,000 Vivaros have been sold in the UK including 9,000 so far this year.
“We are very proud to celebrate these milestones at our UK production facilities in our 110 anniversary year,” said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s chairman and managing director. “Our hardworking and dedicated workforce at Luton and Ellesmere Port produce vehicles of exceptional quality so it is no surprise these UK-built models are so successful in the marketplace.”
Both Vauxhall plants have been allocated new products securing production into the next decade. Ellesmere Port has been awarded the accolade of lead European manufacturing plant for the next generation Astra, securing jobs and investment well into the next decade.
Meanwhile, the Luton van facility will build the next generation Vivaro, X82; production of vehicles is expected to start in quarter three next year - not April 2014 as originally planned Also, plans to have first-build vehicles running down the line this month in anticipation of production ramp-up have also proved wildly optimistic, with the result that pilot-build vehicles will not run down the line until next year. However, facility changes have begun with important upgrades already installed in the body shop. Significant investment has been made in the project including €95 million in the specific plant changes, €112 million in vendor tooling of which €34 million is in the UK and €12 million on facilities. The plant will source 40 per cent of its content locally for the new vehicle.
The plants employ over 2,500 people in the Luton and Ellesmere Port areas, with indirect employment adding a further 15,000. The Luton plant built 53,000 vans in 2012; so far this year it has built 22,000 and with production currently running at a rate of 198 a day. Ellesmere Port manufactured 95,000 vehicles last year and 37,000 so far in 2013 at a rate of 530 per day.
Both facilities are significant contributors to the local and national economies with 76 per cent of vehicles built for export.
● The expected announcement of the future owner of the UK-based Millbrook Proving Ground continues to hover tantalisingly in the background. The hold-up, it seems, is the extraordinarily long time it is taking to complete the due diligence process. This is probably as frustrating for the new owners as it is for the employees of the extensive proving grounds close to the M1 motorway in Bedfordshire. ∎