A SECOND major boost for the UK auto industry has been announced with the revelation that Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory on Merseyside will become the home to a new generation of electric vehicles.
The move from parent company Stellantis secures some 1,000 jobs on the site and thousands more in the supply chain.
It comes a week after Nissan announced a £1 billion investment in its British factory in the north east when it was revealed its Sunderland works would become a hub for electric vehicle and battery production.
Stellantis has announced it is to pump £100 million into the Ellesmere Port site to build a battery-electric vehicle which will be sold both as a van and a passenger vehicle for the Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën brands.
It brings to an end years of speculation over the future of the Ellsemere Port works which has been the home to production of the Vauxhall Astra.
The plant will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year, having been built in 1962, and produced its first car, the Vauxhall Viva, in 1964.
Since that time, it has produced subsequent generations of the Vauxhall Viva, the Vauxhall Chevette and then each generation of the Vauxhall and Opel Astra.
In total, since 1964, it has built more than 5.2 million vehicles.
Carlos Tavares, Stellantis chief executive officer, said:"Performance is always the trigger for sustainability and this Â£100million investment demonstrates our commitment to the UK and to Ellesmere Port."
He added: "Since1903 Vauxhall has manufactured vehicles in Britain and we will continue to do so."
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: "Ellesmere Port's proud tradition in auto manufacturing will continue for many years to come thanks to today's investment.
"Stellantis' decision to double down on their commitment to this site is a clear vote of confidence in the UK as one of the best locations globally for competitive, high-quality automotive production."
With production of the Astra due to come to an end, Ellesmere Port will switch to making electric Combo-e vans and Combo e-Life people movers for Vauxhall and similar models for Citroen, Opel and Peugeot for the UK and overseas markets.
These light commercial vehicles, and their passenger car variants, are all powered by a 100kW (136hp) motor with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery.
They are able to be charged at up to 100kW and take just 30 minutes to charge from zero per cent to 80 per cent. Under WLTP conditions, they are capable of up to 174 miles of range.
Stellantis is the LCV market leader in Europe and, in the UK, Vauxhall leads sales in the fast growing all-electric LCV segment which also includes production of the larger Vivaro-e van at Luton.
Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën brands have already committed to offering all-electric versions of their entire respective van model ranges before the end of 2021. Fiat Professional - also owned by Stellantis - will too be offering electrified and alternatively fuelled versions across its van range.
With rising LCV usage in urban areas, partly due to the growth in demand for online delivery services, these zero-emissions-in-use vans will make a significant contribution to reducing emissions in towns and cities across the country.
The passenger car version will enable families to enjoy a "zero emission" active life with up to seven seats, benefitting from a modern high-tech interior, with high levels of comfort, adaptability and interior space.