Blog: Dave LeggettGM Europe and Astra production

Dave Leggett | 20 December 2006

It does seem that the pendulum has swung a little in favour of Ellesmere Port, the plant in the UK that makes Astra cars and has seemed vulnerable (lost the third shift on current model earlier this year) as GM looks to consolidate next gen Astra output (starts 2010). I understand a final decision on which European plants get the car will be taken by the middle of next year.

Ellesmere Port is not out of the woods, but GM executives have been stressing that Ellesmere Port is moving in the right direction on cost/productivity measures. Just as Bochum is unlikely (virtually impossible, actually) to be dropped because that would harm the Opel brand in Germany, losing the last car assembly operation for Vauxhall in the UK (still an important market for GM in Europe) probably presents an unattractive scenario. Better to keep the pressure on at EP (helped by occasional media scaremongering), get it more efficient and then award it next Astra to huge sighs of relief from all at EP. Trollhattan, a plant never really seriously in the Astra running because of where it is, is the apparent 'loser', but gets something else anyway.

But there is still an alternative possibility that sees EP sacrificed for Gliwice in Poland, particularly if GM's European financials are worse than expected (lately, they haven't looked too bad though - GM Europe breaking into the black).

Heck, the politics of this stuff is difficult to read, wind apparently changing direction, comments designed to produce an effect, cost relativities changing, exchange rates changing... and the decision in principle may already have been taken, even.

GERMANY/UK [updated 10:20]: GM 'safeguards' west European production until 2012


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