01 April 2011

Luton Van Plant Goes On


In 1905, Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the United Kingdom in Luton. Over the years cars and commercial vehicles poured out of the facility. However, production reduced as British industry declined. Today, only vans are made at the Luton plant, which currently employs around 1,170 staff and has a capacity of approximately 100,000 units. It now operates as GMM Luton, and produces the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro, Renault Trafic and Nissan Primastar. This van is a joint venture between GM and Renault.

Uncertainty over Luton's future hung over the worker's heads as it does too often in many factories today. Most workers it seems were resigned to soon losing their jobs as the current van ends its production cycle. Then out of the blue, GM decided to build the new van at the plant. From what I read, maybe the Renault Trafic model will be built in France but the Vivaro will go ahead at Luton.

Up to £130million will be invested in new equipment at the factory and up to £15million at suppliers. The plant is expected to build about 50,000 of the new models a year, with 80% being exported. On a personal note, workers can now plan their lives around having a stable financial future and the Luton factory lives on.

Recent Luton production figures are listed below from 2001 to 2010 (in ,000s). Italicised means estimates. The figures are as accurate as possible but I found they do vary slightly from different sources. Nissan Primastar may be included in latter Renault Trafic figures:

Model 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Vivaro 32 36 37 52 58 61 68 63 29 38
Trafic 18 43 37 37 32 28 27 24 25 33
Total 50 79 74 89 90 89 95 87 54 71

My take on it: The joint venture has meant that it is cost effective to make and therefore GM Luton continues making vehicles.

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