UK CAR manufacturer Vauxhall could come under new ownership under new plans to create a European car giant.
Vauxhall forms part of the European business of ailing US giant General Motors, which is being eyed by Italian manufacturer Fiat.
Fiat is assessing the possibility of merging its own car-making operations with GM’s European arm and its 20% interest in manufacturer Chrysler, which entered bankruptcy protection in the US last week.
This would create a car giant with around 80 billion euro (£71 billion) in annual revenues, the firm said.
Vauxhall employs around 5,000 workers in the UK at bases in Luton, Bedfordshire and Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Around 1,200 are based at Luton and 2,500 at Ellesmere Port, with the rest at dealerships across the UK.
Top-selling models such the Astra and Corsa are a common sight on Britain’s roads, while the company has also been behind the famous makes of previous years such as the Cavalier and Viva.
Vauxhall was originally founded in London in 1903, celebrating its centenary six years ago. It has been wholly owned by the General Motors group since 1925 and responsible for around 20% of its European revenues.
Fiat’s chief executive Sergio Marchionne will assess the viability of the merger in the next few weeks, with the aim of ensuring “the most favourable conditions for the strategic development of the automotive sector”, the firm said.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Marchionne said the potential deal was a “marriage made in heaven” from an industrial and engineering point of view.
The new company would sell up to seven million cars a year, making it second only to Toyota in the global market.
Mr Marchionne was due to meet politicians and European officials in Germany yesterday to press the case for the deal.
Germany’s Opel is also part of GM’s European operation.