Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant – which builds the Astra – will not reopen until at least September, it has been revealed today.
Parent company PSA Groupe has told the Telegraph that the extended closure was down to ‘the commercial situation of the Astra’.
It has thrown into doubt the future of the plant that last produced cars in March. The extended closure will mean the plant will have been mothballed for six months.
Vauxhall hopes to redeploy up to 250 Ellesmere Port employees to its van factory in Luton to meet demand which it says is now back to pre-coronavirus levels.
A third shift has been added there to make the Vauxhall and Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroën Dispatch vans.
The extra staff are needed to maintain output as social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures has reduced productivity.
Automotive industry expert Professor David Bailey told the Telegraph: ‘This is a real surprise as staff had been given safety training about working with social distancing and were waiting to hear when production was restarting.
‘It not only shows how bad a state the new car market is in but also raises doubts about Ellesmere’s future, and whether the company will decide to invest in building a new Astra there.’
The future of the plant and its 1,000 staff was thrown into doubt by Brexit, with fears Britain leaving the EU without a free trade deal would make it uneconomical.
Carlos Tavares, PSA chief executive, has previously said he wants to continue production at Ellesmere Port but will only do so if it is economic.
The news comes days after Nissan raised concerns a no-deal Brexit would cast doubt over the future of Sunderland.
Vauxhall said the extended closure includes the August holidays when production normally stops.
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