30 September 2015

UK Car Industry: GM Vauxhall #6

Ellesmere Port plant 2002

Vauxhall is the oldest of the major brands made in the UK. It was named after a district in London where it was founded. It started making cars in 1903 and moved the bulk of production to Luton, Bedfordshire in 1905. In 1925 the company was bought by GM and Bedford trucks were made from 1931. Another car making plant was added in 1964 at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Vauxhall cars were popular after the war and we had a couple of them as a family (a '62 FB Victor and '65 Velox) when I was a lad. They were good cars, especially the Velox. I also worked for a company where Bedford vans were used (the CF model), which I thought were good. My wife had a 1978 HC Viva when we met but by then they were not as good. In New Zealand, Vauxhall and Bedford had sold alongside Holden cars but were eventually withdrawn in the early 80's.

Vauxhall UK car production had its ups and downs. Production by model can be found as follows: 1979-95 and 1996-2012. Ellesmere production from 1964 to 2013 as an annual total can be viewed by clicking here. Now it makes the Astra (5 door hatch & Sports Tourer) at Ellesmere Port and Vivaro van at Luton.

Astra production Ellesmere Port
Picture credits: © GM Company.

Value to the UK: Vauxhall comes under the wing of Opel, where its car are designed. In 2014 Vauxhall made 78,000 cars in the UK and 269,000 were sold in Britain, making it a net importer of 191,000 cars. In addition 44,000 Vivaro vans were made at Luton. All the engines seem to be imported. So in terms of value added to the economy, GM's UK operation is modest.

It would be nice to see more UK sourced vehicles, considering how popular Vauxhall cars are in the UK. The fact is GM Europe has over-capacity so keeping the plants open acknowledges their efficiency.

Production share (car) of the UK total: 5.1%. UK value rating: 3/10.

The previous article is for Honda (found here). Next is Jaguar (found here).

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