In 2021 auto giant Stellantis said it was spending £100m to convert the Vauxhall Astra plant at Ellesmere Port to produce electric vans and now the first of its plans have been unveiled. Tony McDonough reports
Global auto maker Stellantis has unveiled initial expansion plans at its Ellesmere Port complex as part of a £100m transformation to convert it to make electric vans.
In July 2021 Stellantis announced the factory would cease to assemble the Vauxhall Astra and would instead produce a new generation of electric vans. The decisions safeguarded the future of the plant and around 1,100 jobs.
A dark cloud had hung over the site for several years and hundreds of jobs had been lost. Its then owner, French Group PSA, said Brexit had put the facility at risk. However, PSA completed a £40bn merger with Fiat Chrysler.
The enlarged business is now called Stellantis and its brands include Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Vauxhall. The Ellesmere Port factory, which once employed 12,000 people, will now assemble the Vauxhall Combo-e, the Peugeot e-Partner and the Citroen e-Berlingo electric models.
Now Stellantis has submitted a planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council, via Stoford Properties and Vauxhall Motors, to build a new 668,000 sq ft warehouse at the Ellesmere Port site which celebrates 60 years of operations this year. It will include three storeys of office accommodation.
In its application, the company says: “The proposed development represents the latest major investment in the area to ensure the longevity of Hooton Park as a major employment site for the local area.
“The development is intended to be occupied by Vauxhall Motors who are already operational in the area as a purpose-built facility for the production of automobiles for distribution across UK and European markets. Thus, maintaining Ellesmere Port’s tradition in auto-manufacturing.”
Announcing the £100m investment last year Stellantis said: “This new era of manufacturing will see a transformation of the Ellesmere Port plant fit for the future, with a new body shop, upgraded general assembly, a compression of the site area and the creation of an on-site battery pack assembly.
“In addition, there will be further support to enable a pathway to carbon neutrality for the plant by the middle of this decade. The plant aims to be 100% self-sufficient for electricity and work will commence imminently on potential wind and solar farms.”