Currently reading: Stellantis boss warns 2030 ban could close Vauxhall UK factory
Carlos Tavares says a decision on the future of Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant is imminent
James Attwood, digital editor
News
3 mins read
19 January 2021

Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares has said the firm will decide the fate of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in the coming weeks - warning that the UK government’s "brutal" decision to ban the sale of new ICE cars from 2030 could “destroy the business model”.

The PSA Group - which bought Vauxhall-Opel in 2017 - and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently completed their merger to form Stellantis, and in his first press conference as the CEO of the company, Tavares pledged that it "will not shut down plants as a result of that merger”.

But Tavares did caution that the future of the Cheshire plant, where the Vauxhall Astra is produced, is under review due to the UK’s 2030 ban on all ICE cars aside from a limited number of hybrids.

“If a government creates a situation that destroys the business model, by saying ‘we’re going to ban the sale of that type of car’, we’re going to stop investing,” said Tavares.

“If we’re told that in 2030 internal combustion engines can't be sold in the UK, which we respect as a decision of the country, then we will not invest in combustion engines any more, and we will look to see if there is a business case to invest in other directions.

“We completely respect those rules and will completely comply with those rules, but if they lead to a case [where] there's no business model, it leads to a consequence that's clear for everybody.

“There's a limit for the headwinds. If one region is putting up so many barriers that there's no room to find something that creates value, then we have to respect that, and then there's an ethical decision from the officers of those companies to make an appropriate decision.

"If you brutally change the rules and restrict the rules for business, there's a problem. The more you place stringent rules on an industry, the more there's naturally a limit.

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“We are doing our best to avoid that. The decision that there will be no more combustion-engined new car sales in the UK in 2030 stops all investment in combustion-engined cars. So we say there's room for electric cars, but if there's an imbalance between the volume of the UK market and the continental Europe market and you put investment closest to where you sell the most volume, what's left for the UK? That's what people should understand. It's not rocket science but plain thinking.

"We are talking to investors and stakeholders, including the government, to try to resolve this.”

As well as the UK’s 2030 ban, Tavares said that Stellantis needs to evaluate the impact of the new UK-European Union trade deal, particularly with its rules of origin that will require an increasing percentage of a vehicle to be manufactured in the UK or the EU to avoid cross-border tariffs.

He said those rules were “very aligned with the Stellantis strategy, which is about engineering and manufacturing electric vehicle components in Europe.” But he added: “So if we can comply with those rules of origin requirements, and I believe we can, where should we be putting investment based on the markets where those products are sold? This is still under review.

“Should we put electric vehicle-related investments in the UK or Europe? They would both contribute to rules of origin requirements, so both could work, but of course the biggest market is on the continental Europe side. So from that perspective, it could be best to put it in Europe. It depends also on the UK government’s willingness to protect some level of its automotive industry. 

“We are now deciding on where we are going to put those investments, and we don't forget we have a strong asset in Vauxhall, which is warm to the hearts of UK consumers. We haven't made a decision yet, but we will make a decision within the next few weeks.”

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cdp 20 January 2021

In the late 70's with subsidies from the French government PSA bought Chrysler Europe. They closed the entire UK operation. Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam, Talbot, Singer and Commer all gone.  This happened within the EU.

As soon as it was announced PSA were buying Vauxhall Opel (again after PSA had received massive subsidies) it was obvious that Vauxhall were finished. 

 

Why does anybody see France as a friend? At most we are an ally when they need us. Never the other way around.  

Finlay Turnbull 19 January 2021

Sales of the Astra have completely collapsed in Britain in recent years, to the point where last year less than 12,000 were sold in Britain. Vauxhall had said it could close the Ellesmere Port plant in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Well we all know that never happened. Now they're using the 2030 ICE ban as a potential excuse to close their plant. This is getting ridiculous now. Vauxhall might as well be up front and honest with the public. Sales of the Astra has completely collapsed in Britain in the past 5 years, it would be a better business decision for them to build it elsewhere, and they really ideally want to close Ellesmere Port down. 

Citytiger 19 January 2021

So the twunt is saying that even though the ban on ICE cars doesnt kick in for 9 years, and the hybrid ban for 14 years, 19 years in France and longer in other parts of the world, he cant see a future for the factory that produces far more vehicles for export than it does for the domestic market, sounds like the descision has already been made, and they are just using the UK ban as a convenient excuse, the fact that no one buys Astras anymore and the next one is just a badge engineered Peugeot anyway is irrelavant.