Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory at risk of closure in 2019
The future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory is threatened by high manufacturing costs and Brexit, according to owner PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares.
Tavares said Ellesmere Port’s manufacturing costs are double that of PSA’s Sochaux factory in France. “This is striking because the best, most cost-competitive place to make cars in Europe is not France because of the labour cost.
“When you reach this kind of situation, it creates a risk for the future,” he told CM.
“It means we immediately need to set up a plan to improve the manufacturing cost competitiveness on the plant, based on many factors, such as internal logistics, energy, and making the plant as compact as possible.”
Tavares said the situation at Ellesmere will be worse if the UK embarks on a hard Brexit.
“If it is a soft Brexit, we can still export cars from the UK to the continent, in which case your competitors are all the continental plants. We need to catch up with those plants, so the UK needs to improve its quality and cost competitiveness to be able to continue to export in a profitable way. But that’s soft Brexit – the one that’s not going to happen.
“If it’s a hard Brexit, it’s even worse. On top of having to be competitive against continental plants, you will have to overcome the penalty of a customs tax, which puts even more pressure on competitiveness, and makes it even more demanding.”
Whatever the outcome of Brexit, said Tavares, the issues at Ellesmere Port need to be fixed by the time the UK leaves the EU.
“The conclusion is: let’s get back to work, let’s work hard. Because we have two years to fix it, but not more. When Brexit happens, whatever Brexit it is, this situation needs to be fixed.”
PSA Group acquired Vauxhall and European counterpart Opel on 1 August. In October, Ellesmere Port announced it would be cutting 400 of the 1,800 jobs from the facility by the end of 2017.
The port produces the Astra car model in both hatchback and Sport Tourer body styles. PSA also owns a Vauxhall plant in Luton, which makes the Vivaro van.
Scania L-series low entry truck announced
Scania has launched a brand new low-entry cab series to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz Econic and other improved direct vision cabs.
The Scania L-series is the latest model in a busy 18 months for the manufacturer which has seen the launch of the Scania S-series as well as revised R-series, P-series, G-series and new XT construction models.
Designed specifically to meet the increasing demand for safer urban trucks that meet the Direct Vision Standard, the L-series will be offered in distribution, waste and construction configurations. Available in low, standard and high roof heights, the L-series’s party trick is its ‘kneeling’ ability allowing a greatly reduced entry-height. Automatically activated by applying the handbrake, the floor height drops more than 10cm to give an 80cm floor height. The first step, just 44cm off the ground, is all that is required to gain access. L-series cabs still come with two steps but those with no kneeling abilities give a 93cm floor height – a reduction of more than 20cm compared to the previous generation P-series.
To further improve visibility and safety, a Scania City Safe Window is also now available as a factory option on both the new P-series and the L-series, replacing part of the door panel in the passenger door with a glazed section.
Power comes from Scania’s 9-litre diesel engine with the choice of three different power outputs. The option of a OC09 gas engine suitable for both CNG and LNG with two power outputs, will be added to the line-up in 2018. Both diesel and gas engines will be compatible with Scania’s Opticruise transmission or an Allison automatic gearbox.