Predictions that jobs will be slashed in the UK as a consequence of the Vauxhall/Opel sell-off have been challenged by GM sources.
One GM source told Autocar that the future of the Ellesmere Port plant was safe "for years to come" because of it lead role in producing the new-generation Astra.
"Ellesmere Port is probably the best GM plant in Europe. It is regularly rated in GM Europe as number one for quality, productivity, low warranty claims and even low energy use. It’s a great place to build cars as well as to export them’ the source said.
"It is run incredibly tightly. There’s an argument that says you couldn’t cut back any further and keep the facility running properly."
However, one trade union source at the Ellesmere factory was quoted as saying he expected Magna - the new owners of Vauxhall/Opel – to cut as many as 800 jobs, equivalent to 40 per cent of the existing workforce.
The GM source also suggested that there had recently been "positive talks" between Renault and Vauxhall/Opel about the post-2012 future of the Luton van plant. Luton is widely regarded as particularly vulnerable.
The Unite union claims that the Magna buyout team was targeting Britain for substantial job cuts, partly because it had made promises to the German government about preserving jobs in Opel’s homeland.
British Government ministers they are prepared to talk to Magna over the next few weeks about financial help and the scope of any changes to the Vauxhall’s production facilities.
General Motors’ sources say they although the company will collaborate with Vauxhall/Opel on the production and future engineering of the Insignia and new Astra, the American giant will now concentrate on growing the Chevrolet business in the European market.
Chevrolet will be positioned as a strict value brand through new models such as the Cruze, while Magna will continue to try and push Opel/Vauxhall upmarket.