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UK: General Motors' Vauxhall to boost Ellesmere Port car assembly 25%
02 Mar 2004
Source: editorial team

General Motors' UK-based Vauxhall operation plans to raise production at its Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire by 25% by the end of next year.

Plant director John Burton said the output increase from 160,000 to 200,000 cars a year was needed to meet anticipated demand for the redesigned Astra, due on sale in May, and a planned revised Vectra range.

Ellesmere Port, opened in the early 1960s to build the first generation Vauxhall Viva, now makes a third of the Opel-designed Astra models built in Europe, in both left and right hand drive forms. Astras are also built in Belgium and Poland and are exported as far as Australia and New Zealand where they are sold as Holden models. They are also sold as Chevrolets in some markets, notably in South America.

Vauxhall plans to keep the old Astra on sale in the UK after launching the all-new version in May.

Production of entry-level right hand drive models will continue, to give Vauxhall dealers several budget-prices entry-level models, although assembly will move from Ellesmere Port to a Polish Opel plant.

Priced from just under £10,000, these models will stay in production until a redesigned three-door Astra is introduced in about a year?s time.

Vauxhall sales head Bill Parfitt said: "I expect we can sell 5-6,000 of these vehicles."

The Astra, with both Vauxhall and Opel badges, accounts for 22% of the of the four million cars sold in the segment in Western Europe every year.

GME expects the UK to be the biggest European market for the redesigned Astra and forecasts 48,000 sales this year. Prices will start at £10,995.

Full Article Here

Model shown:
Astra Convertible Turbo 2-door convertible in Star Silver

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I'm pleased to hear about the initial success of the Astra, though I'm a bit perplexed by the lack of similar success with its primary competitor, VW's Golf. I'm sure price plays a role, but it seems like the premium between the two is not THAT substantial.
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