LONDON — Britain is “very hopeful” that a good outcome can be found for the Vauxhall car factory, business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Monday, as owners weigh up Brexit and electrification in a major investment decision.
Parent company PSA Group said in 2019 it wanted to keep open the Ellesmere Port plant, by making the new Opel/Vauxhall Astra there, but that would depend on the outcome of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Since then, London and Brussels agreed a tariff-free deal dependent on local content levels, PSA merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis and a UK plan to end the sale of new combustion-engine-only cars was brought forward.
In January, CEO Carlos Tavares signaled the 2030 ban decision effectively stopped future investment in conventional vehicles in Britain, and that he was weighing whether to build electric cars.
A company spokesman said on Thursday it was awaiting an “eventual binding commitment” of support from the government.
Kwarteng said on Monday an “intensive dialogue” would continue over the coming days and weeks. “I am very hopeful that we can reach a satisfactory conclusion in terms of the continued investment and support for Stellantis,” he told parliament.
Stellantis is considering revamping the factory for production of full-electric cars but is seeking financial incentives and commitments on post-Brexit trade of auto parts, Bloomberg reported last week.
Opel/Vauxhall CEO Michael Lohscheller said last week that Stellantis hopes to reach a binding agreement on Ellesmere Port with the British government in the near future.