The future of the Ellesmere Port plant in northwest England – which makes the current Astra model – is said to be in the balance as parent Stellantis decides on future investment priorities. A decision on whether to build the next Astra model at the plant has also got bound up with the longer term future and the shift to electric vehicles in Europe by the end of the decade.
Reports suggest delicate negotiations are taking place between the UK government and Stellantis, with the possibility that part of a GBP500m investment fund designed to boost electrification in Britain could be used to tip the balance and protect the 1,000 jobs at the assembly plant (and up to 6,000 in the wider supply chain).
Last November, the UK government said it would bring forward a ban on the sale of new ICE powered vehicles to 2030, but that GBP500m would be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.
Support for battery making in Britain could be a key consideration for Stellantis as it weighs up whether to keep the Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant in the long-term.
Stellantis managers are thought to be particularly concerned with battery supply prospects for future EVs made in the UK, particularly in the context of shipments to the EU and new rules-of-origin requirements that apply now that the UK has left the trade bloc.
Last week a board meeting of Stellantis concluded without a decision on the future of the Ellesmere Port plant. However, ongoing discussions between the UK government and Stellantis were confirmed to just-auto. Some commentators note that the absence of a decision last week could mean that negotiations between the two parties have now entered a more protracted phase based around the conditions for investment and the UK government’s position on support.
See also: Incentives needed to encourage UK battery build
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