Fleet News

GM boss pledges commitment to Britain

GENERAL Motors will announce which European plant will produce the new Vauxhall/Opel Vectra within the next five weeks - and hopes are high that Ellesmere Port will win the battle. The Merseyside factory is vying with General Motors' Antwerp plant, home to the Astra and Zafira, to produce the Vectra replacement, codenamed Epsilon, following the decision by the world's leading manufacturer to shut its Luton factory, in March 2002.

If Ellesmere Port gets the go-ahead the company will invest more than £100 million in transforming it into a so-called 'swing plant' with employees continuing to build the Astra. General Motors' chief executive officer Rick Wagoner said 'good arguments' had been put forward as to why Ellesmere Port should build the new Vectra and he praised Vauxhall chairman and managing director Nick Reilly for his efforts in fighting to win the verdict.

General Motors Europe president Mike Burns was more upbeat. 'If we can find a way to do it, my preference would be Ellesmere Port,' he said. 'I would like to make it work there.' Much depends on the outcome of costing and meetings with employee representatives and with industrial action planned at General Motors plants across Europe on January 25, Wagoner sent a message to union leaders saying: 'Industrial action does not help. We are always willing to sit down and talk to the unions but we will not change our minds. We need to mitigate difficulties but we will not reconsider our decision.'

Burns added: 'We hope to have seen the last of factory closures in the UK.' And in a message to the unions he added: 'I want to listen to them and I want to answer their questions. What happened was very serious, but Vauxhall is a key player in the long term. We are going to build a lot of vehicles in the UK. We are not walking away from the UK.'

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