Fleet News

Ellesmere Port gears up for new Vectra production

VAUXHALL'S next-generation Vectra is expected to begin rolling down the company's production lines at Ellesmere Port in less than six months' time. But it is likely to be next summer before examples of the Ford Mondeo challenger start being shipped to showrooms.

Every example built this year will be a pilot model - for use only to prove the accuracy of new manufacturing equipment and help train staff to understand new production processes. 'It will be some time before we're ready to enter pre-production and then make the move to build cars for sale. But everything is running according to plan,' launch manager Nigel Allen told Fleet NewsNet.

He was speaking as workers were preparing a 55,000 square metre area in the factory for a new facility to house body assembly of the car, codenamed Epsilon. Allen added: 'The floor is being upgraded and resurfaced to accommodate a unit that will involve 400 robots and we should soon be installing a framing station. When we've completed the processes to certify the machinery and finished our training programme, the pilot cars will be destroyed. They will never find their way on to the market.'

About 30 workers are expected to transfer to the north west factory when Vectra assembly finishes at Luton at the end of March, and training for the new model is already taking place at Russelsheim, the Opel factory designated as the main source of General Motors' vital contender in the upper-medium segment. Now in its run-down phase, the Luton facility is operating on a single-shift basis, with annual output of 75,000 units. On a three-shift basis, the Ellesmere Port facility will be capable of producing 180,000 Astras and Vectras per year, starting from next May or June.

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