PSA Peugeot Citroën is considering introducing a fourth shift at its British factory at Ryton, near Coventry in central England, to boost production of the Peugeot 206 hatchback and new 206SW station wagon derivative.

The company wants to increase production to 230,000 vehicles next year - about 40,000 more than in 2001 - by adding 700 staff and introducing the fourth shift.

A PSA spokesman told just-auto that discussions began with the plant's unions today but it would be some time before the company knew whether it had union approval.

The PSA plant was originally built by the now defunct Rootes Group and produced cars with badges such as Hillman, Humber and Singer before ownership passed to PSA, after a brief spell as a Chrysler UK operation. It began building Peugeots in the mid-1980s.

The plant is the second largest UK car plant in terms of volume and presently operates on a three-shift basis, seven days a week.

Ryton builds 206 hatchbacks in both left and right-hand drive, with 51 percent exported, and is the sole PSA plant making low-volume glass-roof 206 hatchback derivatives - such as the luxury Roland Garros - and the SW station wagon. Last year, the factory built over 190,000 cars.

Pending discussions with the trade unions, PSA hopes that increased production could begin from January 2003.