PSA Group May Shift Next-Gen Opel Astra Production From UK To Germany

PSA Group’s Ellesmere Port plant in northwest England is in danger of losing a significant chunk of its output in favor of Germany’s Rüsselsheim facility.

According to a report from German business paper Handelsblatt cited by Autonews Europe, PSA Group will decide in the coming weeks which European plants will build the next-generation Astra, which is expected to arrive no later than 2021.

Unions at the Ellesmere Port factory in the UK fear that PSA may move production of left-hand-drive Astra models to Germany. Currently, the Astra is built in Ellesmere Port and Gliwice, Poland. However, the report cites company sources as saying that Opel’s home plant in Rüsselsheim could be chosen to build the left-hand-drive cars currently made at Ellesmere Port.

Rüsselsheim will stop making the Zafira Tourer this summer and will only be left with the Insignia

The truth is the German plant is in need of an extra model as it will stop making the Zafira Tourer this summer. When production of the MPV stops, the only model made in Rüsselsheim will be the Insignia. According to the German paper, the site selection process for the Astra has largely been completed.

PSA is reportedly considering two options: allocating 75 percent of Astra production to Ellesmere Port and 25 percent to Rüsselsheim (instead of Gliwice); or producing 75 percent of Astras in Rüsselsheim and allocating only right-hand-drive models to Ellesmere Port.

Handelsblatt claims PSA is leaning more towards the second option because of Brexit and currency risks. However, that depends on whether German unions will agree to big job cuts at Rüsselsheim. At the moment, IG Metall opposes the cuts. Most likely, PSA will wait to see the Brexit outcome before making a decision. PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares previously said he was open to the idea of Ellesmere Port building RHD versions of PSA vehicles to avoid tariffs between the UK and EU in case of a hard Brexit.

Opel CEO already promised German union that Rüsselsheim will build a second model

Interestingly, on April 11 Opel management and IG Metall met to discuss the “planned capacity utilization and the investments in the German plants to fulfill the collective agreements.”

During the meeting, the union was assured that Rüsselsheim will get a second model to replace the Zafira Tourer. “We also talked about further investments including those for Rüsselsheim. As announced, we will bring a second model based on a modern Groupe PSA multi-energy platform to Rüsselsheim,” said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller in a joint statement.

It remains to be seen whether that model is the next-generation Astra or another vehicle from the PSA Group.

Note: current-generation Opel Astra pictured

more photos...
  • Sovereignty

    177,298 Vauxhalls were sold in the UK last year. If production is moved to Germany, let’s hope Brits ditch the Vauxhall brand once and for all and hit PSA where it hurts! It’ll be like Peugeot’s poor handling of the Rootes Group all over again.

    • YUDHA BAGASKARA

      retire the vauxhall brand, rename it as opel from 2020s

      • Joe

        You clearly don’t understand the UK market. If they kill the Vauxhall name or kill any form of UK production, market share will tank. If it was a good idea, GM would have done it a decade ago when they were falling apart and killing brands. Renaming to Opel would backfire horribly and pretty much gift-wrap sales directly to Ford and other rivals.

        • rarmo

          Almost none of which are built in the UK. At least we can all go out and buy Nissans and Toyotas, I suppose.

      • Sovereignty

        Peugeot have killed off many British brands before through mismanagement… Commer, Hillman, Humber, Karrier, Singer, Sunbeam and Talbot.

    • Madhatter

      I worked at the lorry & van plants at luton & dunstable….one is now a housing estate & the other is now an Amazon wharehouse( the social club grounds also became a housing estate.
      PSA are asset strippers…that’s what they’re busy doing to Vauxhall as I write.

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  • YUDHA BAGASKARA

    about time, ellesmere port plant should be closed for good.
    Insignia is the last Opel lineup without PSA involvement

    • designer_dick

      Ceasing production in the UK decimated Peugeot’s market share, faliing from 6.15% to 3.23% over the decade or so since they closed the Ryton factory that built the 206, and it will hurt PSA again if they choose to end Astra production at Ellesmere Port.

      • mist

        PSA has another large UK factory in Luton.

        • Madhatter

          Which builds vans

        • designer_dick

          It builds vans, not cars.

          • mist

            But PSA will still produce a large number of vehicles in the UK.

          • designer_dick

            The market for commercial vehicles is much, much smaller than the market for passenger cars, and Vauxhall isn’t even close to being the market leader.

            Conversely, the UK is the largest single market for the Astra, and Vauxhall is by far PSA’s biggest volume brand in the UK, so continuing to manufacture RHD Astras at Ellesmere Port makes a lot of sense. The capacity freed up by transferring LHD Astra production to Russelheim could be utilised by RHD versions of other PSA cars.

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