Stellantis's Big Bet on Ellesmere as its Only BEV Plant

Paul Myles, European Editor

September 7, 2023

2 Min Read

Stellantis has chosen the under-threat UK Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant to create its first global BEV-only factory.

While many in the UK have lauded this as a major step towards saving the plant, the move could also be seen as the automaker taking the biggest risk with a plant it is unconvinced will survive in the teeth of major trading difficulties post-Brexit. Stellantis has already warned the UK government that unless it gets a more favorable trading deal with the European Union, Ellesmere is in the firing line to be shut completely and all resources redirected to Vauxhall’s sister brand in Germany, Opel.

This risk assessment approach would also be in line with the automaker’s stress-testing of BEV adoption in the UK which is, for now, still committed to a total ICE ban on new vehicles from 2030, when the EU has relaxed its proposed 2035 ban to include carbon neutral fuels for new ICE powered cars.

Yet for the moment, Stellantis is ready to make a £100M ($125M) bet on the plant, ironically located in an area that had a high pro-Brexit voting turnout, to convert it into an electric vehicle only production line. The first products to roll off the new assembly line will be the manufacturing group’s all-electric LCVs including the Vauxhall Combo Electric, Opel Combo Electric, Peugeot e-Partner, Citroën ë-Berlingo and the Fiat E-Doblò. From 2024, Ellesmere Port will also produce a range of electric passenger vehicles across the Stellantis brands, including the Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroën ë-Berlingo MPVs.

As part of its transformation for BEV production, the plant has undergone several key changes, including the addition of a battery assembly shop, upgraded General Assembly and relocation of the bodyshop. This has contributed to a 60% reduction of the total site area for improved energy efficiency and productivity. At 118,000m2, the entire plant is now a similar size to the previous bodyshop. A new test track has also been built and a new parts distribution warehouse is in its final stages of construction, ahead of becoming fully operational in early 2024.

Diane Miller, plant director at the plant, said: “The start of electric vehicle production at Ellesmere Port signals a bright future for the plant, ensuring it will continue to manufacture vehicles for many years to come. With Vauxhall’s long history of UK manufacturing, it’s especially fitting that the first electric model to roll off Ellesmere Port’s production line is a Combo Electric.  Whilst the welcome addition of the Fiat E-Doblò to the plant is a positive reflection of increasing electric vehicle demand.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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