The UK car industry got a much needed boost on Wednesday with the news that Vauxhall is to create 500 new jobs.
The General Motors-owned company is investing £189m at its plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port.
It says it will be providing its biggest-ever choice of UK made cars to the UK market.
About £32m will be invested in Luton to boost efficiency and productivity at the plant where the Vectra is built.
At the sister IBC plant in Luton, £130m will be invested under plans to build a new range of vans, creating 500 new jobs.
Contrast to Rover and Ford
In Ellesmere Port, where the Astra, Astravan and V6 engines are already produced, Vauxhall will spend a further £27m to transfer production of the Frontera 4×4 vehicle from Luton where it is currently built.
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Vauxhall boss Nick Reilly said: “The investment is necessary to prepare us for the new products and to improve further our productivity and cost competitiveness.”
The expansion by Vauxhall follows recent large scale investment at Ellesmere Port, and is in contrast to the threat to jobs at Rover’s Longbridge factory and at Ford’s Dagenham plant.
Mr Reilly, who has been a supporter of the UK’s adoption of the euro, said the high level of the pound “put a substantial strain on our manufacturing business”.
But, he added: “The UK continues to be a good place to manufacture and this optimism is helped by the continuing commitment and developing skills of our workforce.
“While nothing is ever guaranteed, the greater productivity achieved by these changes obviously helps the prospect of maintaining employment in the future.
“We have worked hard to control our costs in recent years and this investment is both a reward for those efforts and a boost to further cost improvements.”
Vauxhall said it would be able to build 408,000 vehicles a year at the three plants after the investment, up from the present 353,000.