Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis is in ‘ongoing conversations’ with the Government over the fate of its Ellesmere Port factory (pictured)
Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis is in ‘ongoing conversations’ with the Government over the fate of its Ellesmere Port factory in the North West as negotiations continue to turn it into a cutting-edge electric car plant, said one of the firm’s top executives today.
Stellantis – a conglomerate which also includes the Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat and Chrysler brands – is currently reviewing its options for the Astra-making Cheshire site, which include building electric vehicles there or possible closure.
Amid increasing confidence that a deal will be struck, Vauxhall’s Alison Jones said Stellantis had been clear with the Government what it needed in terms of support and conditions but declined to spell out the details.
She also hinted that an additional UK battery ‘gigafactory’ could be part of the prize if they were able to conclude a deal on Ellesmere Port.
Speaking at the SMMT’s International Automotive Summit in London on Tuesday, Ms Jones said of the final decision on Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory: ‘We have been really clear.
‘Carlos Tavares has been really clear what it would take in terms of the decision.’
There are ‘ongoing conversations’ with the government,’ she added.
But challenged that Stellantis had not made public the exact terms, she said this was a commercially sensitive issue noting: ‘We’ve not disclosed exactly what it will take because that’s commercially sensitive.
‘Discussions with the government are part of the conversation and this is ongoing.’
SMMT boss, Mike Hawes (right), addresses the International Automotive Summit in London on Tuesday morning. Left: Alison Jones, UK group managing director and senior vice president at Stellantis
Ms Jones hinted that an additional UK battery gigafactory could be part of the prize if the government provided funds to convert the Ellesmere Port facility into an electric vehicle plant
The comments from Stellantis follow reports that Nissan is this week set to announce its plans to create a battery gigafactory in the North East by 2024.
Both the BBC and Sky News said a statement will be made by the Japanese car firm in the coming days – likely Thursday – about the plant, which will directly feed batteries to the Sunderland factory where the Leaf EV is built.
The key factors in general when deciding the location of any factory are proximity to the market for customers, the cost of energy, and employment costs.
Asked about how attractive the UK is for building electric cars, Jones said: ‘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.’
She added: ‘We build carbon calculations into any decision that we make. So that’s an important part of it.’
The post-Brexit trade deal struck with the EU will see the amount of local content in manufactured cars sold for export increase in 2023 and 2027 – which means that battery plants in the UK are vital as the batteries are central to electric cars.
The ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 means factories must switch to electric car production.
The UK’s first gigafactory (plans pictured) is also set to be established in the North East. Based in Blyth, Northumberland, the Britishvolt plant will be operational by 2023 and fully completed at the end of 2026. It will likely provide 3,000 new UK jobs
The nation’s first battery-making gigafactory is due to be operational from 2023.
The Britishvolt facility will be located in Blyth, Northumberland, and become the first home-based site that provides batteries to UK car makers.
The enormous factory is due to be fully completed in 2026.
It will be built on the 135-hectare plot and will bring 3,000 new jobs to the North East and another 5,000 in the wider supply chain, the company said.
Studies have suggested that the UK needs up to seven of these gigafactories in the next decade, while there are also reports that six firms – including Nissan – are currently in discussions with ministers about building them in the UK.
There are around 7,000 jobs linked to the Cheshire car plant and the extended supply chain
In response to being asked ‘what is it going to take’ for the company to invest in the Ellesmere Port factory, Jones told the summit in London: ‘We’ve had ongoing conversations with the Government, and we continue those conversations.
‘I can’t say here what they are, but that is part of the equation.’
Up to 7,000 workers in the supply chain rely on the plant for their livelihoods, according to union Unite.
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