Even though all the Hillaman, Sunbeam, Reliant, and Wolseley factories are long gone, there’s still a lot of cars being built in the UK. It seem likely, though, that there will be a drop in those numbers of UK-built cars, because, thanks to Brexit, GM may be taking their toys and going home.
By ‘toys’ I mean the Vauxhall/Opel Astra (we sort of had it here in the US as a Saturn, for a while), which is currently built in Ellesmere Port in northwest England. An LMC Automotive report suggests that this production could be move to Poland or Germany by 2021, where the next-generation Astra is expected to be launched. Given that the Vauxhall is identical to the Opel short of the whole left versus right hand drive thing, the consolidation of production outside of the UK would be relatively straightforward.
The factory at Ellesmere Port has been around since 1964, and started off making the Vauxhall Viva, and later made the Chevette and then the Vectra, Astramax/Kadett Combo truck, and then the Astra.
Automotive News spoke with Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of motor industry economics at the UK’s Cardiff Business School, and he suggested that the reason this factory was most likely to go was because it has the lowest parts localization, at about 25%.
“It has a low anchorage, so in that sense, it’s the most vulnerable.”
So, if your dream was to own a genuine, British-made Vauxhall Astra, you’ve only got, oh, five more years or so. Better get on that!