By on May 17, 2012

What was highly probable yesterday is definite: GM will shift production of the Astra compact from Germany to Ellesmere Port, England. Workers at the UK plant agreed nearly to a man and a woman (approval rate 94 percent) to a deal with GM that keeps Ellesmere Port open and that spells the near certain doom of Opel’s plant in Bochum.

Workers agreed to a four-year deal that freezes wages for two years, and that allows only moderate rises of around 3 percent for the following two years, Reuters heard from a source. The source also said:

“It’s almost certain that one of GM’s German plants will now be closed, probably the plant in Bochum.”

Currently, some Astra production is at Opel’s Rüsselsheim plant in Germany. Beginning in 2015, this will shift to Ellesmere Port. The Polish plant in Gliwice most likely will continue Astra production. It is expected that production of other cars will be shifted from Bochum to Rüsselsheim, with Bochum to be shuttered.

According to a GM statement, the Ellesmere Port plant will run three-shifts at full capacity. GM committed to a minimum of 160,000 vehicles to be produced each year. The company will invest £125 million into the facility and expects to create circa 700 new direct jobs. The agreement comes into force in 2013 and runs through the life of the next-generation Astra, into the early 2020s. Production of the new Astra will begin in 2015. This is also when the current contracts with European unions run out. Until then, all plants must stay open, and all workers must remain working.

Ellesmere Port had been on GM’s target list, but survived again. This also means a continuation revival of the British car industry, this time with a British brand on German cars. Lately, the island has been a preferred location for production by Asian manufacturers, such as Nissan, Toyota, and Tata. Britain now exports more cars than it imports for the first time since 1976.

 

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8 Comments on “Official: GM Lets Ellesmere Port Live. Bochum Likely To Die...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    “Let’s”

    apostropheabuse.com

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    OK then, I’ll bite.

    Why is it that German people consider Opel to be particularly German, and Vauxhall as a British charity case? Opel/Vauxhall are built across Europe, designed for Europe. It would be better to describe them as ‘pan-European’.
    Britain is by far the biggest market for Opel/Vauxhall too – and I could make a fairly good case to argue that it’s because of the name Vauxhall – Opel just carries too many negative connotations for everyone.

    By the way, yes, I do drive a Vauxhall, and it wasn’t built in Germany, it was built in Spain. And no, there is no problem with Spanish manufacturing. In 50,000 miles it has had not one problem and averaged over 40mpg (UK).

  • avatar
    analoca

    I fully subscribe to what iainthornton says…Opel /Vauxhall should be seen pan-European manufacturer rather than German. A good chunk of Opel/Vauxhall output comes from outside Germany and the right strategy should be to allocate volume to those plants which are most cost effective. It looks like Ellesmere Port’s unions have demonstrated much higher flexibility in order to win the new Astra production, in detriment of their “inflexible” German colleagues.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Bashing stuff together is all well and good, but it would be preferable to get more of the design work.

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    In hindsight, it is really understandable that the Opel people were really excited about the prospect of GM selling off the business to Magna ore someone else.

    Every other German car manufacturer is thriving. The people at Opel are good enough to do the same. All that’s holding them back is the cripplingly inept GM management.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Personally, I’m not entirely sure that GM does hold them back. I think it’s mostly the brand name – Opel is probably the equivalent of Oldsmobile I suppose; it’s the car your grandfather drove. This is the issue that Opel needs to address. I have so many friends who say that they’d like an Opel, but wouldn’t be caught dead in one.
      In Vienna last year I actually spoke to someone who said he’d like to see Vauxhall offered there, just so that he could buy an Opel without stigma.
      Vauxhall doesn’t have a bad or good image in the UK….it has no image at all, to be honest.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        You think BMW/Audi will ever have this problem? Won’t be caught dead in one because their parents drove it?

        That would be ..ironic and funny to me.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    Well, I think that the difference is between an aspirational product and a mundane one.
    If an adult says “when I was a kid, my dad always drove BMWs” then dad seems like he was pretty slick and informed.
    If they say “yeah, dad always had a Cavalier hatchback” then he’s just a man who drove the same car as everyone else.

    A parent driving a BMW will make the BMW seem more attractive than it otherwise would be, whereas a parent driving an average Vauxhall will make it seem less attractive than it would be, purely because of how children build their perceptions through childhood


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