Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Vauxhall’s Luton plant to manufacture electric vans in UK from next year | Vauxhall


Vauxhall’s owner, Stellantis, will make electric vans at its factory in Luton from 2025, helping to secure the future of 1,500 UK jobs at the plant.

The Luton factory will produce medium-sized electric vans for the Vauxhall, Citroën, Peugeot and Fiat Professional brands, Stellantis announced on Thursday.

The decision will be seen as positive news for the UK automotive industry, which has mostly recovered from a difficult period marred by computer chip shortages and the threat of Brexit trade restrictions.

Stellantis warned last year it could close UK factories if tariffs were imposed on UK-EU exports, but Westminster and Brussels came to a belated agreement in December to delay the rules, paving the way for further investments.

Some carmakers – notably Honda and Ford – have closed UK factories rather than investing to shift to electric vehicle production, but several others have recently announced plans to produce electric vehicles or parts.

Nissan revealed in November that it would invest heavily to build two new electric models in Sunderland, while India’s Tata Sons, the owner of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, in July said it would build a £4bn battery factory in Somerset. BMW in September said it would spend £600m to upgrade its factory to build electric Mini cars.

Stellantis has already started production of electric vans at its other leading UK site at Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire. There had been some doubt over the future of that plant, but it was saved by the decision to switch focus from passenger cars to commercial vans.

The models built at Luton will be the Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot e-Expert, Citroën ë-Dispatch and Fiat E-Scudo – all of which are all built to near-identical designs, but with sales focused on different countries. The factory will focus on right-hand-drive vans for the UK, but will also be able to switch to left-hand drive.

Stellantis already produces electric versions of the Vivaro at its factory in Hordain, in northern France, but the company said that it expected growing demand for medium-sized electric vans in the future.

The Luton plant has the capacity to make 100,000 vehicles a year, although in the past decade it has built between 60,000 and 78,000 vans a year.

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Work at Luton, in Bedfordshire, will start this year on production of electric vans, although Stellantis will continue to build versions with internal combustion engines at the same factory.

Maria Grazia Davino, Stellantis UK’s group managing director, said that the investment “demonstrates Stellantis’s confidence in the plant”, but said that the UK government should “stimulate more demand in the electric vehicle market and support manufacturers that invest in the UK for a sustainable transition”.

This article was amended on 22 February 2024. An earlier version said that Ellesmere Port was in Merseyside when it is in Cheshire.



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