Vauxhall has announced it is to build a new Vivaro van at its Luton plant by 2019, securing the factory’s future into the next decade.
The next generation of the medium van will be based upon PSA Peugeot-Citroen platforms following the French group’s acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall for £1.9bn in 2017.
The current Vivaro is the result of a collaboration between Opel/Vauxhall and Renault and has been based upon the Renault Trafic since 2001.
Luton production of the Vivaro will supplement PSA’s Hordain (Sevelnord) facility in France, which builds the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert models.
Vauxhall said the investment in Luton (estimated to be up to £170m) had resulted from a performance plan negotiated between the factory and the Unite Trade Union, with the backing of the UK government, which recognised the brand’s expertise in light commercial vehicle production as well as the flexibility of the plant’s existing paint shop.
The initiative is set to see the PSA Group’s EMP2 platform for LCVs in operation at Luton by mid-2019.
Vauxhall said the Unite union’s commitment to guarantee production flexibility together with the support of the Luton Borough Council as well as the UK government had facilitated the performance plan despite “Brexit uncertainties”.
In 2017, the plant produced 60,000 Opel/Vauxhall Vivaros. The new deal aims at increasing the plant’s production capacity to 100,000 vehicles per year.
“Performance is the trigger for sustainability and I would like to thank all stakeholders involved and underline the open mindset of our union partners, as well as that of the UK government,” said Carlos Tavares, PSA Group chairman.
“This is a major milestone for the future of the Luton plant and a key enabler to serve our ambitions in the commercial vehicle market, guaranteeing customers the best offering in this segment.”
In 2017 PSA reported record LCV unit sales of 476,500, an increase of 15% on 2016.
Michael Lohscheller, CEO of Opel/Vauxhall, said the Luton plant deal recognised the viability of the factory’s 1,400-strong skilled workforce and demonstrated that “we [Opel/Vauxhall] have our future in our own hands”.
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s decision is a vote of confidence in Vauxhall’s high skilled workforce and the UK’s world leading automotive sector. This investment in upgrading the production platform will safeguard and grow jobs, ensuring the future of the Luton plant well into the next decade and help ensure the plant is well positioned for future Vauxhall models to be made in the UK.
“We have been clear in our commitment to the automotive sector which is why, through the Industrial Strategy, we established a landmark Automotive Sector Deal that will see us working with industry to put the UK at the forefront of new technologies.”