Opel/Vauxhall and Renault have announced the production locations for the next generation of the Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic van models that secures the immediate future of the Luton, England plant. Production is scheduled to start in 2013.
Opel/Vauxhall said the next generation Vivaro will be built at its plant in Luton, while Renault will produce the Trafic model at its plant in Sandouville, as well as the next generation of the H2 (high roof) version of the Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro.
Today’s announcement follows the joint announcement between Opel/Vauxhall and Renault in September 2010, when both companies agreed to continue their successful cooperation in the light commercial vehicle segment.
The cooperation goes back to 1996 when the first generation of the Opel/Vauxhall Movano and Renault Master programme was announced. Since then, the cooperation expanded to include Vivaro/Trafic and versions of the Trafic and Master for Nissan called the Primastar and Interstar respectively.
In 2010, the second generation Renault Master and Opel/Vauxhall Movano van programme was successfully launched with an extended model range including rear wheel drive versions and a number of factory produced specially converted vehicles.
The current Vivaro and Trafic models were first produced in 2001 and, by the end of 2010, Opel/Vauxhall and Renault had built over 1.25m units. While the sister models are being jointly developed and produced in Opel/Vauxhall and Renault-Nissan plants, they are independently marketed and sold through the respective brand distribution channels.
Nissan has complicated the cooperation a bit recently by replacing its rebadged French-built Renault Kangoo variant called the Cubistar with an in-house designed, Japanese-built built, entry level van model named NV200. Later this year, the rebadged Renault Master, called the Interstar by Nissan, will be replaced by a model named NV400, still based on the Master but with greater styling differences.
Logically, a similarly more greatly differentiated, new generation Trafic/Vivaro, badged NV300, would replace the current Primastar but a Nissan spokeswoman was unable to confirm that today. (24 March)
Further details of Vivaro production at Luton from 2013 were expected from GM later.
GM has kept Luton workers on tenterhooks over the future of their plant, once the centrepiece of Vauxhall’s manufacturing empire, but which now builds only the one van line – Astra cars are built at Ellesmere Port and remaining GM models are imported into the UK from Spain, Germany, Korea and Australia.
Vauxhall faced considerable union plus national and local political opposition to its decision some years ago to end car production at Luton and the plant more recently stopped making an SUV line whose replacement now comes in from GM Korea.
Reporting: Graeme Roberts and Simon Warburton