VAUXHALL’S Ellesmere Port plant could spearhead Europe’s drive to build energy-saving electric cars.
That’s the view of borough MP Andrew Miller after Vauxhall’s parent company General Motors signalled its intention to create the next generation of eco-friendly vehicles in the UK.
Carl-Peter Forster, president of GM Europe, spoke out at the London Motor Show last week after meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss the future of the automotive industry.
And he said with enough Government investment, his company could build more cars like its prototype Volt electric car in the UK.
The Volt, powered by advanced batteries and an electric motor coupled to a small petrol engine, has potential fuel costs as low as £100. It is to be launched in North America in 2010.
Vauxhall spokesman Dennis Chick said: “There was a private meeting with the Prime Minister and heads of industry at the Motor Show about how to accelerate the pace of electric car production and how we could get its infrastructure into place.
“Mr Forster said we have to see more detail of what the Government is planing but, hypothetically, if the Government could help us down the road in terms in investment, then we could build these cars in the UK.
“It’s only a theory at the present. It’s a nice idea but is dependant on what the Government plans to do.”
Mr Miller said he could see the next-but-one vehicle produced at Vauxhall’s North Road plant being either an electric or hydrogen-powered car.
He explained: “There’s no reason why we in Ellesmere Port should not be a leading light in this. We have got everything to play for.
“We’ve got the expertise in making high-quality vehicles. We just need to have enough imagination and ensure we are well positioned for it.
“Now we’ve got to get people excited about its potential.
“The fact Gordon Brown is flying the flag in conversations with GM is really positive.
“The question is can we position Ellesmere Port to be a centre for the manufacture of cars after the age of the internal combustion engine?”
Vauxhall should remain the centre of innovation
BACK in the early 1960s the then-new Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port was at the cutting edge of bringing affordable and reliable motoring to the British public.
That’s when the company launched the first Viva model, which set the benchmark for style and economy.
Many thousands of them were produced, to be followed by the equally popular Chevette and, most notably of all, five generations of Astra, which will soon be joined by a sixth.
Given the world-beating success of the North Road factory over more than 40 years, there’s no reason it shouldn’t now be the home of another major piece of motoring innovation – one of Europe’s first mass-production electric cars.
As we report today, after meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the London Motor Show General Motors’ European president Carl-Peter Forster said that with enough Government investment his company would be able to build more cars like its prototype Volt electric car in the UK.
And the specualtion is that if this is case, the Ellesmere Port plant could be the place to do it.
This view is shared by borough MP Andrew Miller who tells us he can see the next-but-one vehicle produced at the plant being either an electric or hydrogen-powered car.
He explained: "There’s no reason why we in Ellesmere Port should not be a leading light in this. We have got everything to play for.
And he’s right.
Gordon Brown’s government is fond of stating its environmental credentials, so it would be excellent to see it put its money where its mouth is when it comes to financial incentives to see the Volt or something like it get plugged in to Ellesmere Port.