The Ellesmere Port plant is on the brink of closure following the end of production of the Opel Astra, which is now built exclusively at Rüsselsheim in Germany. But Stellantis needs production capacity for its electric utility vehicles, so the group has invested heavily in transforming the factory, which has just started production after long months of work.
The first fully electric vans are rolling off the production line at Ellesmere Port, the UK's first dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing plant and the first Stellantis electric vehicle plant in the world, following a £100 million (€117 million) investment to transform the plant for the production of electric vehicles.
The Ellesmere Port plant will produce the Vauxhall Combo Electric, Opel Combo Electric, Peugeot e-Partner, Citroën ë-Berlingo and, announced today in response to growing demand for electric vehicles across Europe, the Fiat E-Doblò compact van. From 2024, Ellesmere Port will also produce a range of electric passenger cars under the Stellantis brand, including the Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroën ë-Berlingo MPVs.
Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for Business, said: "Today's announcement that Ellesmere Port will become the UK's first electric vehicle manufacturing plant and the first Stellantis electric vehicle factory in the world is a highly visible demonstration that this Government has the right plan for the UK's automotive sector. Alongside recent investments by other major car manufacturers, we are ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of automotive innovation, while securing jobs in this vital industry and its wider supply chain".
Meanwhile, Diane Miller, Factory Director at Ellesmere Port, said: "The start of electric vehicle production at Ellesmere Port heralds a bright future for the plant and ensures it will continue to produce vehicles for many years to come. Given Vauxhall's long history of manufacturing in the UK, it is particularly fitting that the first electric model to roll off the line at Ellesmere Port is a Combo Electric. Meanwhile, the welcome addition of the Fiat E-Doblò to the plant is a positive reflection of the growing demand for electric vehicles. "
Stellantis is committed to working with the Government to ensure that the UK automotive industry remains competitive in the production of electric vehicles in the long term. As part of its transformation for electric vehicle production, the Ellesmere Port plant has undergone several key changes, including the addition of a battery assembly shop, a modernised general assembly and the relocation of the bodyshop. This has helped reduce the site's footprint by 60%, improving energy efficiency and productivity. At 118,000 m2, the entire plant is now similar in size to the former body shop. A new test track has also been built and a new parts distribution warehouse is in the final stages of construction before becoming fully operational in early 2024.
The factory upgrade is also part of Stellantis' Dare Forward 2030 commitment to halve its carbon footprint by 2030 (based on 2021 data) and become a net zero carbon business globally from 2038. Sustainability improvements include the introduction of a new, more energy-efficient '4-wet' paint application process, while a localised CHP (combined heat and power) plant will also be installed to generate electricity on site, further reducing emissions. As part of its ambition to become carbon neutral by the end of the decade, the plant is working to be powered by solar and wind energy and to connect to the HyNet North West hydrogen pipeline.