Production at General Motors Europe’s Luton commercial vehicle plant reached a significant milestone when the plant’s 500,000th van came off the line.

The red Vauxhall Vivaro SWB panel van was the half millionth vehicle produced at the General Motors Manufacturing (GMM) plant under a joint manufacturing agreement established in 2001, under which GM builds all European specification low-roof versions of the Vivaro for both its Vauxhall and Opel brands, as well as slightly restyled versions for Renault and Nissan. The van, and a larger model (built elsewhere) also sold by the four brands, was developed largely in a Renault-GME joint venture.

High demand for the Vivaro makes GMM Luton Britain’s largest light commercial vehicle manufacturer, with 2006 output of 89,065. The plant employs about 1,700 people.

Plant director Donna Sanford said: “The recent success of the multi-award winning Vivaro is down to the hard work and dedication of our workforce – and this milestone shows just how successful the van has been in the market.”

Total production for 2007 is expected to set a record for the Vivaro and its variants, following a boost in popularity helped by some improvements, upgrades and new engines in 2006.

The Vivaro is one of Europe’s most successful vans, and its recent honours include best medium van at the Van Fleet World Awards, Van of the Year 2006 from Professional Van and Light Truck magazine and best medium-sized panel van from What Van? Magazine.