In a monumental 24 hours, Vauxhall’s two UK manufacturing plants both reached production milestones with the 250,000th Astra Sports Tourer rolling off the production line at Ellesmere Port and the Luton facility building its 900,000th Vivaro-type van.
Ecstasy at Ellesmere
Yesterday workers at Ellesmere Port, Britain’s number one manufacturer of estate cars, held a celebration at the end of the production line as the quarter of a millionth Astra Sports Tourer, the UK’s best-selling estate car, was driven off the production line. The Astra is consistently one of the UK’s best-selling cars with over 2.8 million sold since it went on sale in 1980 and 30,000 sold alone this year.
Illustrating the depth of Vauxhall’s engineering and manufacturing excellence in the UK, the Sports Tourer is assembled solely at Ellesmere Port for export across Europe, while its upper-body structure was 100 per cent engineered by Vauxhall engineers based at Millbrook, Bedfordshire with key dynamic elements tuned for UK roads by the same team. Production of the current model started in 2010.
Vauxhall call the AA
Then, less than 24 hours later, the Luton plant’s 900,000th Vivaro was handed over to the AA, one of Vauxhall’s biggest customers. AA patrol of the year Tony Rich, who will have the honour of driving the milestone van, received the keys on behalf of the AA.
Vauxhall is the UK’s number one commercial vehicle maker, a position the manufacturer has held for eleven years since Vivaro production started. The lynchpin of Vauxhall’s top-selling van range, over 150,000 Vivaros have been sold in the UK including 9,000 so far this year.
“We are very proud to celebrate these milestones at our UK production facilities in our 110th anniversary year,” said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “Our hardworking and dedicated workforce at Luton and Ellesmere Port produce vehicles of exceptional quality so it is no surprise these UK-built models are so successful in the marketplace.”
“We are honoured that this landmark Vivaro is going in to service with the AA,” said Edmund King, AA President. “Tony is very much looking forward to driving his new van and I’m sure his visit to the plant is one call-out he’ll never forget!”
Both Vauxhall plants have been allocated new products securing production into the next decade. Ellesmere Port was awarded the accolade of lead European manufacturing plant for the next generation Astra, securing jobs and investment well into the next decade.
The Luton van facility will build the next generation Vivaro with production starting next year. Facility changes have begun with important upgrades already installed in the body shop. Significant investment has been made in the project including €95 million in the specific plant changes, €112 million in vendor tooling of which €34 million is in the UK and €12 million on facilities. The plant will source 40 per cent of its content locally for the new vehicle.
Both plants employ over 2,500 people in the Luton and Ellesmere Port areas, with indirect employment of a further 15,000. The Luton plant built 53,000 vans in 2012, 22,000 so far this year and is currently running at a rate of 198 per day. Ellesmere Port manufactured 95,000 vehicles last year and 37,000 so far in 2013 at a rate of 530 per day.
Both facilities are significant contributors to the local and national economies with 76 per cent of vehicles built for export.