United Kingdom

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory to restart car production after 5 MONTHS

Production at Vauxhall's UK car factory will resume from August 17, exactly five months after owners Groupe PSA closed the shutters on the vehicle plant.

The assembly line was forced to stop operating on 17 March, one week before Britain was put into lockdown as global industries closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But while other UK vehicle factories restarted manufacturing as early as 4 May, bosses at the Peugeot and Citroen firm have kept the facility closed. 

Five-month layoff: Furloughed staff at the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port factory will be returning to the car plant on 17 August, bosses have confirmed this week

Bosses at Groupe PSA said the car factory in the north west of England has been kept closed 'to protect its employees and preserve the company's long-term future'. 

When it does restart on August 17, it will be one of the final major automotive plants in the country to reopen after the coronavirus outbreak.

The carmaker confirmed in April to local newspaper The Chester and District Standard that staff had been placed on furlough, receiving 80 per cent of their salary through the government's job retention scheme. It is unclear if staff will remain on the scheme, which has a lower grant level from next month, until the factory restarts.

The first UK car maker to restart production was Rolls-Royce, kick-starting its Goodwood plant and welcoming back 1,000 staff members - which is around half of its total workforce - some 105 days earlier than Vauxhall staff will return.

Aston Martin restarted its production line for the DBX crossover in St Athan, South Wales, a day after Rolls-Royce while fellow British luxury car maker Bentley restarted operations from 11 May, rising to full production from May 18.

Britain's biggest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, also resumed production from May 18.

Workers at the facility - which opened in 1962 - are still awaiting a decision on whether fresh investment will be made to keep the facility open post Brexit

Almost 62,000 Aatras were built at the Ellesmere Port factory in 2019, making it Britain's sixth biggest passenger car producer

The Vauxhall plant on the outskirts of Chester employs over 1,000 people and is the major manufacturing site for the Astra family hatchback, of which almost 62,000 examples were built at the factory last year - making it Britain's sixth biggest automotive producer. 

Only Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Mini, Toyota and Honda's soon-to-close Swindon plant manufacturer more passenger cars than Ellesmere Port in 2019.  

Workers at the facility - which opened in 1962 - are still awaiting a decision on whether fresh investment will be made to keep the facility open in the near future, dependent on the outcome of Brexit.

Since shutdown, more than 100 safety measures are being implemented to stop the spread of the virus including the daily checking of temperatures and the wearing of glasses or goggles, PSA said. 

First back: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was the first vehicle maker in the UK to go back to work on 4 May - some 105 earlier than Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory

'This health and safety barrier protocol was validated by a Group PSA audit that took place on 24 April 2020, which enables the resumption of production of the Astra on 17 August, in a progressive and safe manner,' said Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall Motors.

Some 188 members of staff from the Ellesmere Port site were recently temporarily reassigned to the firm's Luton van production facility.

The commercial vehicle factory announced on 10 July that it has needed to introduce a third shift to assist with the production of new generation vans such as the latest Vauxhall Vivaro and sister models Peugeot Export and Citroen Dispatch, bringing its total staff up to 1,750.

This is the new name for the company created by the merger of Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Merged PSA-FCA company to be called Stellantis 

PSA has also recently announced that when the business merges with Italian-American automaker FCA - which oversees Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep - early next year, the new company will be called Stellantis.

The companies say in a statement that the name will be used for the parent corporation, but consumer brands, such as Fiat, Jeep, and Peugeot, will not be changed.

Stellantis is derived from the Latin verb 'stello,' which means 'to brighten with the stars.'

The new name will be on side of corporate buildings in France, the US, Italy and elsewhere.

The companies announced plans to merge in December of 2019 and say the merger should be completed in the first three months of 2021. 

It still must be approved by shareholders at general meetings and pass antitrust and other regulatory requirements.

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