PSA Group boss says that British factory is suffering from "complacency" but will be given the chance to prove it can be competitive

Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant must close the cost and quality gap between it and its European equivalents if it's to survive, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares has reiterated.

Speaking at the Geneva motor show, Tavares highlighted that the PSA Group's plants, including those that came as part of the Opel and Vauxhall acquisition, will all have an “equal and open” chance to demonstrate their competitiveness, but that there remains an issue of over-capacity that he needs address.

Last year, 400 jobs were cut at Ellesmere Port, with company bosses saying the decision was taken due to 'market changes' rather than output or performance issues.

“Unfortunately, there was complacency for several decades, and now the gap between the UK and the Continental plants is significant,” he said. “But we see an opportunity in Brexit. While everything pauses to see what will happen with that, we will keep working. It gives us breathing space to improve competitiveness.”

Although Tavares hasn’t put a timeline on negotiations, he did highlight that other plants - and especially the workers’ unions at them - had already secured their futures by showing a flexibility to his needs to cut costs. “We need to reduce the total manufacturing costs significantly,” he said. “If you look at the plant in Zaragoza [in Spain], the unions demonstrated a high level of maturity in our negotiations and we agreed a deal to make the Corsa and electric Corsa there.

“Yes, the negotiations were difficult, but that is what it takes. When a company is complacent for decades it allows a gap to open. I'm not saying this to be difficult - it's the reality.”

Under the ownership of General Motors, Ellesmere Port was hailed as one of the highest-quality and efficiency plants the firm operated. However, insiders say that benchmarking it against existing PSA plants has highlighted deficiencies.

The PSA Group is completed by Citroën, DS and Peugeot.

“What I can promise is that everything will be benchmarked in an open and fair way,” said Tavares. "We will look at the best we have and measure against that, and find how to achieve that.”

Read more

Vauxhall axes 400 jobs at Ellesmere Port

PSA and Unite union in talks over future of UK factories

PSA Group plans to make Vauxhall and Opel profitable by 2020

Vauxhall Corsa EV to be launched in 2019

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

The new Insignia is essential to Vauxhall’s future and needs to be good. So is it?

Join the debate


6 March 2018

Goodbye Ellesmere Port.....

Steam cars are due a revival.

6 March 2018

My Astra J CDTI tourer (built at that plant) has proven more durable than the nightmarish VAG diesels, Fiat diesels and BMW 2.0 TDs. 

Look at the classified or ebay, Spanish built Corsa's from 08-14 are riddled with engine failures etc (and being sold spares-or-repair), whereas the Astra's are proving strong vehicles.

Wonder why Senor Carlos wants to protect the Spanish plant?

6 March 2018

Why don't they just dump the Vauxhall brand and the UK factories and keep Opel?

Maybe then Vauxhall can have a good shot at a fresh start in the UK, rather than winding down domestic production so that the brand can't survive independently!

Somebody needs to wrangle Vauxhall back from PSA.

6 March 2018
Is all I have to say about that. I think they will try to do something, otherwise they wouldn't have put one of Tavares' closest allies in charge of Vauxhall and you see they are making over the advertising to promote the idea of Vauxhall being an 'authentic' British brand. However the reality is Opel/Vauxhall has lost so much money for so long, they will need to do something fairly dramatic to turn the situation around, otherwise it will pull PSA down. The UK staff will need to take this seriously, and if people want to blame someone they can blame GMs terrible management of the company. If it wasn't for PSA I suspect Vauxhall and Opel would be dead or being wound down right now.

6 March 2018

If they closed the Uk plant after Peugeot closing coventry that the sales of  thes ecars would nosedivedue to bad publicity and lousy residuals.

6 March 2018
Ski Kid wrote:

If they closed the Uk plant after Peugeot closing coventry that the sales of  thes ecars would nosedivedue to bad publicity and lousy residuals.

Would it though?

There are plenty of Peugeots on the roads.

When Ford stopped making cars in the UK people still bought them.

When Rover went to the wall people still kept buying BMWs.

8 March 2018
Ski Kid wrote:

If they closed the Uk plant after Peugeot closing coventry that the sales of  thes ecars would nosedivedue to bad publicity and lousy residuals.

They all suffer that anyway, without sounding too much like Morrissey, so what difference would it make?

6 March 2018

Vauxhall makes competent cars that people wanted to buy 15 years ago. The world has moved on. That is why Ellsmere will surely close.

7 March 2018

Exactly who is he trying to insult here?  The Biritsh workers, the German management, or the American ex-owner?

12 March 2018

PSA had no intention of maintaining any manufacturing presence in Britain. There is no instance of a French takeover resulting in anything other than closure of British factories - Dodge Trucks (where the same excuse being put forward for Ellesemere Port was used - not up to scratch blah blah), Ferguson Televisions, GEC Alstom, Peugeot-Talbot and so on and so on. This has nothing to do with the factory itself being weak or Brexit but everything to do with the French never missing a chance to stick one on the Brits.

Sadly, our own government also feels the same way - French steel being used for our new submarines for example. The workers at Luton and Ellesmere Port can expect nothing from the British government than crocodile tears and then abuse from the DWP if they have to claim social security to put food on the table.

Don't forget that it was only acouple of years ago that the French government tried to alter the voting structures of the Renault-Nissan Alliance to give it absolute control over Nissan with the express intention of closing down the Sunderland Nissan factory. Even the Guardian reported on that story so nefarious was it! 

Waht we need bluntly is what China and Russia have and before them korea and Japan. If you want to sell here, then you make it here. It is working very well for China and now for Russia. They have factories and so on. We don't.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Dallara Stradale
    The Stradale is the first road-legel car from Italian motorsport constructor Dallara
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    The motorsport constructor's first road car is inspired by Lotus minimalism. Does it thrill on road and track?
  • Hyundai i30 N
    Standard spec is good so paint colour is our car’s only option
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    What’s Hyundai’s first hot hatch and N-brand debutant really like? Let’s find out
  • Porsche Boxster GTS
    This is the new GTS version of the Porsche Boxster
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The 718-generation Boxster is our favourite roadster of the moment – so is this new GTS variant worth the extra outlay?
  • BMW 5 Series
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The BMW 5 Series is top of the mid-exec pack, but is there still room for a diesel saloon in everyday family life?
  • Audi A7 front
    First Drive
    14 March 2018
    The new Audi A7 Sportback looks the part, but how does the new Mercedes-Benz CLS rival cope on UK roads? We find out