Stellantis has started electric van production at its rejigged Ellesmere Port factory in England.
It is the UK’s first EV-only manufacturing plant and the first Stellantis plant dedicated to electric vehicles following a GBP100m investment to switch the plant to EV production.
It will produce the Vauxhall Combo Electric, Opel Combo Electric, Peugeot e-Partner, Citroen e-Berlingo and Fiat E-Doblo compact vans.
Passenger versions will follow – the Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroen e-Berlingo MPVs.
Diane Miller, plant director, said: “The start of electric vehicle production at Ellesmere Port signals a bright future for the plant, ensuring it will continue to manufacture vehicles for many years to come.”
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Changes at the plant include addition of a battery assembly shop, upgraded general assembly and body shop relocation. Total site area is down 60% for improved energy efficiency and productivity. At 118,000 sq m, the entire plant is now a similar size to the previous body shop.
A new test track has also been built and a new parts distribution warehouse is in its final stages of construction, ahead of becoming fully operational in early 2024.
Sustainability improvements include the introduction of a new, more energy efficient ‘four-wet’ paint application process, while a localised CHP (combined heat and power) plant is also being installed to generate electricity on site, bringing a further reduction in emissions.
The plant is working towards running on solar and wind power as well as connecting to the HyNet north west hydrogen pipeline.
Ellesmere Port was built in 1962 and produced its first car, the Vauxhall Viva, in 1964.
Since then, it has produced various Vauxhalls including the Chevette and successive generations of the Vauxhall and Opel Astra.
Since 1985, 4.1m units have been built.
Since Ford’s exit to Turkey, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat are the only mainstream automotive brands to produce vans in Britain. A second factory in Luton making larger models has been operating since 1905.