Stellantis is still weighing up the feasibility of retaining its Vauxhall factory in Ellesmere Port, and UK managing director Alison Jones has explained the key considerations at play as talks with the government continue.
Speaking at the annual SMMT Summit, Jones laid bare the issues faced by the Cheshire site, where the big-selling Vauxhall Astra family car has been produced since 1991.
Stellantis has already confirmed that the next-generation Astra, due in the coming months, will be built at two plants: Rüsselsheim in Germany and a to-be-confirmed European location.
“In terms of the attractiveness of manufacturing in the UK, there are decisions about the manufacturing, the trade and where the customer base is,” Jones explained.
“The decision of any factory is the cost of energy, which we know is different in the UK to other locations in the world; the cost of staff and employees; and the logistics to move your components to be able to build. So you have that practicality, and then you have that nearness to your suppliers and customer base.
“We build carbon calculations into every decision we make, so that’s a key part of it. Post-Brexit, we have a deal that runs to 2023 around rules of origin – that then changes in 2027.
“When you think about electric vehicles, the ability to source batteries close to where you’re manufacturing, and then link that to the tariffs that could or could not be imposed as we go forward, is a key component and consideration.
“And then of course, where our customers are located and the logistics of moving vehicles from where they’re manufactured to customers. All three of those are considerations in deciding where we build.”
Jones comments came as Automotive News Europe reported that the Ellesmere Port factory’s future has been secured. Citing a source at the manufacturer, the site said that Stellantis could allocate electric van production to Ellesmere Port to supplement production of ICE-powered vans in Luton.
An official announcement regarding the plant’s future is still forthcoming, but Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares recently said that he expects “a certain amount of approvals will be given by the UK administration” that will allow the plant to remain commercially viable.
Stellantis now offers six electric vans on the e-CMP architecture: the Citroën ë-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner and Vauxhall Combo-e and the larger Citroën ë-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro-e.
Each of the six commercial EVs is offered as a passenger-carrying MPV variant, too, although it remains unconfirmed which – if any – are destined for production at Ellesmere Port.