The UK government is asking for impossible commitments over Vauxhall’s plant at Ellesmere Port, according to Carl-Peter Forster, chairman of the Opel supervisory board.
Mr Forster says that Lord Mandleson, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, is asking for undertakings to build the next-but-one generation Astra at the plant.
The Astra plant at Ellesmere Port, which employs 2,166 people is, along with all European Opel/Vauxhall factories, under review by the prospective new owner, Magna International, which plans to axe at least 10,000 European jobs.
With the new Astra only just being launched this year, its replacement is at least six years off, which would mean the company giving undertakings about production at Ellesmere Port beyond 2016.
“This would be impossible and dishonest,” says Mr Forster. “You cannot guarantee these sorts of things in the modern motor industry.”
So far the talk has been of building Vauxhall’s Astra-based, extended-range battery hybrid, the Ampera, at Ellesmere Port, but Mr Forster says that the Ampera is a sideshow and that the real debate is about keeping conventional Astra production at the plant.
“The Ampera is not the point at issue,” he says. “I think that Peter Mandelson is frightened about the plant closing, but we are still working on the deal. We are working hard on the details and the next thing we have to deal with is the EU decision on that enquiry.”
Source: Daily Telegraph