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opel logo As part of its plan to revitalize its operations in Europe, Opel/Vauxhall today confirmed it will allocate production of its next-generation Astra compact car model to its manufacturing plants in Ellesmere Port, UK and Gliwice, Poland.

The Ellesmere Port decision was made possible due to a new labor agreement which was approved by the Ellesmere Port workforce yesterday. The agreement runs through the life of the next-generation Astra.

As part of the agreement, the plant will implement several operating solutions to improve flexibility and reduce fixed costs and hence significantly improve its cost competitiveness. This will make Ellesmere Port plant one of the most competitive plants in the Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing network.

Since its foundation in 1998, the Gliwice plant has built outstanding quality at very competitive cost levels for Opel/Vauxhall. The plant has embraced a spirit of continuous improvements and its flexibility and cost competitiveness paved the way for Opel/Vauxhall to assign production of the next-generation Astra to Gliwice.

Assembly of the new compact car is slated to start in 2015. Operating in a three-shift model, both plants are expected to run profitably at full capacity utilization. Opel/ Vauxhall intends to invest €300 million into the two facilities in order to upgrade them to the latest manufacturing standards and prepare for production of the new model. The company expects to create approximately 700 direct jobs in Ellesmere Port.

Opel/Vauxhall will also target increased local content for the Astra which will create further employment in both locations.

Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, said: “I am pleased that we were able to develop responsible labor agreements that secure the future of these plants. With the proven quality of the products built in Ellesmere Port and Gliwice, and the new agreements and the flexibility and cost competitiveness of these facilities, they will be cornerstones of our European manufacturing footprint.”

Opel/Vauxhall does not expect to need additional compact car capacity beyond what the two plants offer. Consequently, production of the Astra in Rüsselsheim will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle.

Stracke added: “A competitive Rüsselsheim plant plays an important role in our growth strategy. It has an outstanding and highly capable workforce, and it delivers excellent quality.”

Opel/Vauxhall management has informed the works council that it intends to fully utilize the plant beyond the run-out of the current Insignia and Astra. Rüsselsheim is currently the company’s most modern production site.

Management and employee representatives will start discussions on this topic in due course.