Sunday 7th May 2006
Vauxhall announced the loss of 900 jobs from Ellesmere Port’s 3,000 staff. Ellesmere Port opened in 1962, originally to supply engines and other components to Vauxhall’s car factories at Luton and Dunstable. The first car to be built at the plant was the HA Viva in June 1964. The Viva was joined by the Chevette in 1975, and in 1980 the plant started exporting Chevettes to Europe. In 1979 the Viva was dropped, and all Vauxhalls since have been rebadged Opel cars. Opel dealers started disappearing from the UK in 1981 (Vauxhall and Opel had previously existed seperately and for a short time sold identical badge-engineered cars), and the name finished in the UK with the Opel Manta in 1988. The Astra replaced the Chevette in 1981, and Astras have been built at the plant ever since, with the Vauxhall name used in the UK, and the Opel name for European markets. Vauxhall’s Luton factory finished car production in 2002 with the end of the Vectra-B, although the Vectra-C that replaced it was made at Ellesmere Port on the same assembly line as the Astra. The Vectra-C was replaced by the German-built Insignia-A in 2008 and since then the Astra has been the only Vauxhall produced in the UK. After an uncertain period in the 2000s, Vauxhall’s parent GM decided to commit to Ellesmere Port by announcing production of the Astra-J would take place there from 2009. This car is currently in production at the plant, and reports say that a hybrid petrol/electric car may be produced at Ellesmere Port in the future.