News that GM’s Ellesmere Port plant, which has just started making new Astras, is to keep its entire workforce and move to three-shift operation in 2011 is further strong evidence, I believe, that GM’s decision not to sell Opel-Vauxhall to the Magna consortium is the best possible outcome.
True, the Ellesmere announcement also points very firmly to the likelihood of labour and capacity reductions at the Luton van operation - unless something extraordinary happens over the next few months to the financial fortunes of White Van man - but the fact remains that the swift decisiveness of stand-in GM Europe CEO Nick Reilly is impressing everyone, from our business secretary Lord Mandelson down.
It can’t be long before the call starts in earnest to keep the former Vauxhall chairman here on a permanent basis, where his rare talents for diplomacy and for finding ways to win commercial battles in saturated markets are already having a powerful effect.
Anyone who can get Peter Mandelson to give him a verbal pat on the back - while he’s in the middle of asking Mandelson’s own government for a fat proportion of the £3.3 billion in short-term loan funds GM Europe needs to stay in business - is a special person.
It’ll be fascinating to see whether Reilly can keep to his timetable to start implementing his plans within three weeks, or at the very worst by Christmas.
If he can, we can take it that he’s had some pretty good guarantees from the UK government - though Mandelson told journalists earlier this week that he’s had no specific request for money. It’s coming, Peter, more surely than Christmas.