Stellantis confirms electric van future

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Investment of $183 million will have ex-Vauxhall Astra factory converted to build small commercial EVs.

Stellantis has committed to investing $183 million to turn Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port into the firm’s first facility dedicated to the production of electric vans.

From late next year, the long-time home of the Vauxhall Astra will switch to producing the Vauxhall Combo-e, Peugeot e-Partner and Citroën e-Berlingo commercial vans, along with their MPV variants. A raft of upgrades will be made to the plant, with the deal securing around 1000 jobs at the site.

Notably, batteries for the vans will not be produced at Ellesmere Port, and will be shipped in from other Stellantis plants.

The future of the plant has been in doubt for years, particularly with the UK government’s decision to ban the sale of most non-zero emission cars from 2030 onwards.

Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares, who has been openly critical of the 2030 ban, said: “This £100 million investment demonstrates our commitment to the UK and to Ellesmere Port. I particularly want to thank our highly skilled, dedicated workforce for their patience and contribution; we never let them down.”

The £100 million (AUD$183m) investment will include the creation of a new body shop, upgrades to the general assembly area, and the creation of an on-site battery pack assembly plant.

Stellantis said it would provide extra support to help make the plant carbon neutral by the middle of the decade.

Stellantis said the UK government has “supported” the investment, although it has not revealed what level of financial commitment that involved. The UK government recently confirmed an investment to boost electric car and battery production at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said: “In this global race to secure electric vehicle production, we are proud to support Britain’s auto sector in this crucial transition as we work to build back better.”

The Ellesmere Port factory first opened in 1964 to produce the Vauxhall Viva, and various generations of the Vauxhall Astra have been produced there since 1979. From 1986 until 1994 the first-generation Opel Combo/Vauxhall Astramax, the forerunner to the new Combo-e, was built at the plant.

James Attwood

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