General Motors has confirmed that it is going to invest over one hundred million British Pounds at the Ellesmere Port assembly unit to bring it up-to-date with the latest and advanced production equipment and also to get it ready for the manufacturing of the new Astra. The production is likely to begin in the next three years.
The Ellesmere Port assembly is currently operated by Opel’s British brand Vauxhall and this unit has been designated as the prime factory in the manufacture of the new Astra. Ellesmere Port is slated to be one of the most competitively productive units in the Opel and Vauxhall production network. General Motors has over forty thousand people working at eleven plants across Europe and more than two thousand workers at its plants in the United Kingdom. The Ellesmere plant will introduce several creative solutions in terms of operations so that flexibility can be improved and fixed costs can be reduced.
Ellesmere Port is going to be the lead assembly unit for the new Astra and these cars will be produced round the clock across three shifts on a daily basis with an annual budgeted target of over one hundred and fifty thousand cars. The plant may get a secure long term existence leash. General Motors is also planning to produce the new Astra at a later stage at an already existing unit in Gliwice, Poland. The investment in Poland will be worth one hundred and forty million Euros.
This decision by General Motors puts a cloud over the future of both the Bochum and the Russelsheim plants where the Astra is being made currently. General Motors has stated that it will end the manufacturing cycle of Astra at Bochum and Russelsheim by 2014. The Astra makes up about a third of Russelsheim’s output capacity. Right now, about thirty thousand Astra units are being made there annually. Russelsheim is also making over twelve thousand Buick Regals which are a revised version of the Insignia that is sold in the United States of America.
Opel also confirmed that the capacity at the Bochum plant will be fully utilized as it is also making the mid-sized Insignia there. General Motors has been putting pressure on workers at all Opel units for concessions because the European sector business has seen operational losses of around two hundred and fifty million dollars in the first quarter of this year. Ending the production of Astra in Germany in the next couple of years may send a wrong message across to the car consumers in Europe.