Blackpool supercar brand TVR is playing down media reports that it is laying off half of its workforce.
The Transport & General Workers' Union said around 150 staff had received letters telling them to stay at home from next week. Overall production of the Sagaris, Tuscan Tuscan Convertible, Tamora and T350 is said to have dropped from a dozen cars per week to just two.
However, while a TVR spokesman admitted that some staff had been laid off, he insisted the number was on a smaller scale and said the move was a temporary one. 'It's been a long winter and the number of cars we produce is directly related to sales,' he said. 'We can't pay people to stand around. But we¹re already seeing an upturn now that the sun's out again.'
The problems might not stop with TVR, however - Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory could yet be under threat in the medium term after General Motors boss Rick Wagoner admitted the firm is considering closing one of its three Opel Astra production lines in the next few years.
The Astra is currently built at the Merseyside base, Bochum in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium. But GM, which has pledged to cut 12,000 jobs in a desperate bid to improve cost-efficiency, has yet to decide where to build the next-generation Astra, due in 2010. When asked if he would consider rationalising the production lines, Wagoner told the Handelsblatt daily, 'At the moment there is no decision on this issue but given the situation in the auto industry you can't rule it out.'
Sources indicate that improvements made at Saab's factory in Sweden might yet persuade GM to move Astra production there.