General Motors Europe’s UK unit Vauxhall has responded to a Sky News report today that there was a threat to GM’s manufacturing operations at Ellesmere Port and Luton by saying a Geneva show press conference had “highlighted” that Vauxhall “was a very strong and successful brand in the UK and there are no plans for it to be axed”.

GME head Carl-Peter Forster had said at the show GM “will consider closing plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton if it does not [get] extra cash”, Sky reported.

Forster told Sky News there were not many options left open for the automaker.

“We are very lean in the UK – in Ellesmere Port, same in Luton,” he said.

“Obviously the next step would be the complete closure.”

“Obviously that’s what we try and avoid. But if we don’t get support from the government we will have to close down.”

Vauxhall said: “The decision to continue manufacturing operations in the UK was reviewed two years ago and this has proved to be the correct decision.

“Both Ellesmere Port and Luton are very lean and efficient plants and as a result Ellesmere Port remains the lead production plant for the next generation Astra that is scheduled for launch in quarter three of 2009.

“The comments made relating to plant closures were in response to General Motors Europe’s request for financial support from a number of European governments. This was specified in the GM viability plan handed to the German government and does not just relate to the UK.”

Forster also told Sky News he had received “positive signals” from the [UK] government regarding the prospect of financial aid.