Last week’s announcement that Vauxhall’s plant at Ellesmere Port in the UK has secured production of the next-generation Astra compact in 2015 will be a boost to the UK supply chain, with the carmaker confirming that it intends to raise local content to 25%, up from around 10% on the current model.

It is also welcome news to the Opel plant in Gliwice in Poland, which is the only other plant in Europe to have secured future production of the Astra and is likely to see local content sourcing also go up, though GM did not provide figures.

The increase in local content in both locations is likely to bring further good tidings to the logistics companies supporting the inbound movement of the material, though Opel/ Vauxhall said it was too early to comment on what that material would comprise of, or whether logistics would be included in what it described as “a number of creative operating solutions to improve flexibility” at the plants.

Opel/Vauxhall has stated only that it will invest €300m to upgrade the two facilities (roughly divided equally) and equip them with the latest manufacturing standards ahead of production in around three years. Operating in a three-shift model, both plants are expected to run at full capacity

Astra production will now be phased out at Opel’s plant in Rüsselsheim.

Strong export trend
Vauxhall, which also has a plant in Luton making the Vivaro (the same platform for Renault Trafic and Nissan Primastar, also made there), has made a significant contribution to the record 21% UK vehicle export increase in the first quarter revealed last week, the first time exports from the UK have exceeded imports for 36 years.

The Ellesmere Port facility currently makes the Astra hatchback, Astra Van and Astra Sports Tourer, with an annual output capacity of 187,000 vehicles.

A spokesman for Vauxhall said the Astra Sports Tourer in particular was a big success story and has an export percentage of around 90%. “Germany is the biggest market by far for this type of car taking circa 40% of production. That's in all a good chunk of exported product,” he said.

The Gliwice facility makes the Astra, Astra Classic II, Astra III sedan and Zafira, and has capacity for 200,000 vehicles.