Today, in its 50th year as one of the UK’s most prolific car plants, Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory will produce its five-millionth vehicle, while also preparing for an influx of 300 extra staff to support the build up to an all-new Astra in 2015.
News of the landmark car will be an extra boost for the plant, which employs nearly 1,800 people in the North-West of England, and in 2012 won the contract from parent GM to be the lead manufacturer for one of Europe’s most popular passenger cars, the Astra.
Stefan Fesser, Plant Director for Ellesmere Port, joined his staff to see car number five-million – a red Astra five-door hatchback model – off the end of the line.
‘This is a momentous day for the men and women who work here at Vauxhall,’ said Fesser. ‘We can look back at fifty un-broken years of manufacturing excellence with pride, and also take satisfaction that our workforce’s flexibility and efficiency has guaranteed the plant’s future well into the next decade.’
As the lead manufacturing plant in Europe for the new model, Ellesmere Port is already busy recruiting extra manpower. Around 300 staff will join the workforce next month as part of a £140 million investment in the facility, which was pledged by General Motors in 2012.
Vauxhall started building its compact cars at the Cheshire plant in 1964, and has been responsible for all Viva models (a nameplate that’ll return to the brand next year), the Chevette and all six Astra models from 1982. In all, an average of 100,000 units has left the plant in each of the last 50 years.
Today, almost 30 Astras roll off the production line each hour, with just over 76 per cent going to export. When the new car arrives later in 2015, Vauxhall is committed to increasing local supply content to at least 25 per cent, creating further employment locally and in the UK overall, while increasing the plant’s competitiveness.
For an entertaining look at Ellesmere Port’s manufacturing history – including a dramatic insight in to some unique in-plant car testing that might have been – please see the following short film: http://bit.ly/1w5DhU2
Today’s Astra range is as popular and diverse as ever. With power outputs ranging from 100PS through to 280PS for the VXR model, it almost always features in the UK’s top-five best sellers and is available as a 3-door GTC coupe, 5-door Hatch and Sports Tourer estate. Both the Hatch and Sports Tourer models are built at Ellesmere Port.
The figures break down as follows:
Viva = 1.00.4321
Chevette = 264.359
Astra = 3.731.320