Vauxhall has confirmed that it will produce its next-generation Astra compact car at its Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant in Cheshire. The Ellesmere Port site will also serve as the lead plant of two European factories that will assemble Astra. Vauxhall’s decision came after the approval of the new labour agreement with the company’s workforce recently.
According to the agreement, the Ellesmere Port plant will employ several creative operating solutions to improve flexibility and reduce fixed costs, thus substantially improving the site’s competitiveness. The agreement should result in making the Ellesmere Port plant into one of the most competitive plants in the Vauxhall/Opel manufacturing network.
The Ellesmere Port plant will begin the assembly of the Astra in 2015, utilizing three shifts to make the site operate profitably at full capacity. The plan calls for the assembly of at least 160,000 vehicles every year. The agreement between Vauxhall and its employees will take effect in 2013 and will remain in force through the life of the next-generation Astra in the early 2020s.
Vauxhall/Opel will make a £125 million investment to upgrade the Ellesmere Port plant to the latest manufacturing standards as well as to prepare the site for production of the new Astra model.
Vauxhall expects to employ around 700 new direct employees to facilitate the three-shift operation. The agreement also calls for Vauxhall to increase the local supply content for the Astra to at least 25 percent, which in effect will create more jobs locally and in the UK as raise the Ellesmere Port site’s competitiveness.
The new Opel Astra has its own interpretation of Opel’s award-winning design language, which combines sculptural artistry and German precision – first showcased by Opel Insignia. The new Astra brings this interpretation into the compact class. It boasts a fresh and sporty look, thanks to its elegant details and strong coupé-like silhouette. It also has elegant proportions that give it a strong and cab-forward profile, as well as a steeply-raked windshield and a falling rear roofline that add a visual excitement to its traditional hatchback format.
According to Mark Adams, General Motors Europe Vice President of Design, it is important for each Opel model to have its own, strong personality, and this is why the design cues that were introduced in the Insignia, such as the wing and blade, were given a fresh new take in the Opel Astra.
More specifically, the Opel Astra’s flank received a dynamic inverted blade, which visually connects to the rear window’s and the C-pillar’s powerful movement. Meanwhile, in the back end, the double wing-shapes in the rear lights make the car instantly recognizable.
The Astra’s interior also reflects the flowing forms that are showcased throughout the car’s bodywork. These flowing forms include the sweeping lines, the curvaceous shapes, and the high quality of execution, which are a part of the brand’s design language. The instrument panel’s wraparound wing shape, which arcs towards the top of the car’s door moldings, is yet another signature design cue. All these give the effect of warm embrace for the passengers, of a welcoming ambience that’s enhanced by red diffused lighting that illuminates the center stack’s base, as well as the front door panels, at night.