The final British-built Vauxhall Astra has rolled off the Ellesmere Port factory assembly line ahead of the Cheshire plant’s £100million conversion into an electric vehicle-only production site.
The plant, which opened in 1962, will be transformed over the coming months and begin manufacturing of solely battery-electric models from 2023.
The final Astra built at Ellesmere Port was an Sport Tourer estate 1.2-litre petrol Turbo SRi Nav manual in ‘Hot Red’ paint.
End of the line for the British-built Astra: Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory has produced its final combustion engine family car before being converted into an electric vehicle-only plant
Vauxhall, which was bought by the French PSA Group from General Motors in 2017 and subsequently merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to form the massive Stellantis in 2019, which is now one of the world’s biggest car makers.
Ellesmere Port will become the group’s first electric-only production site, specialising in battery powered commercial vehicles and MPVs.
Once the factory has been repurposed into an EV-only site, from early next year it will begin production of the Vauxhall – and Opel for mainland Europe – Combo-e van as well as the Citroen e-Berlingo and Peugeot e-Partner sister models.
Car production started at Ellesmere Port in 1962 with the Viva, followed by the Chevette and then the Astra hatchback and estate versions. More than 5.2m motors have been made there
The final Astra produced (left) as Vauxhall’s Cheshire factory prepares to switch to building electric vans and MPVs, including the Combo-e van (right)
The people carrier versions of these vans will also be built at the British factory, which includes the Vauxhall and Opel Combo-e Life, Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroen e-Berlingo MPVs.
They will all be powered by a 100kW (136hp) electric motor with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery, offering a range of up to 174 miles and a zero to 80 per cent fast charge in half an hour.
The new eighth-generation Astra, which was unveiled last year and will cost from £24,315, is being built at Opel’s Rüsselsheim site in Germany.
The latest model is available now with plug-in hybrid technology and fully electric versions of the hatchback and Sport Tourer estate will also be on sale next year.
The first Vauxhall Astra – based on the Opel Kadett – pictured here being driven off the production line in Ellesmere Port in 1981
The second-generation Astra was built from 1984 to 1991. It used the same engines and as the Mk1, but with a completely restyled body. It was voted 1985 European Car of the Year
Released in 1991, the Mk3 Astra was an evolution of the model before it, rather than a complete overhaul. It was in production until 1998
In 1998, Vauxhall introduced the Mk5 Astra, which won praise for its greatly improved ride and handling. It also scored excellently in Euro NCAP crash tests and become a British favourite. Production ceased in 2004
Boxier looks were incorporated into the design of the Mk6 Astra, which was built at Ellsemere Port from 2004 until 2010
Having watched the Ford Focus become a major sales success in Britain, Vauxhall knew it had to up its game with the sixth-gen Astra, built from 2009 to 2016. It was better to drive, more stylish than before and offered all the requirements of a family motor
The Mk7 Astra emerged in 2015. While it was an improvement on the car it succeeded, it hasn;t quite managed to replicate the same success of former models. This is the final one built at Ellesmere Port – a Sport Tourer estate 1.2-litre petrol Turbo SRi Nav manual in ‘Hot Red’ paint
Since 1981, more than 4 million Vauxhall Astras across all generations have been built at the UK site
The family hatchback has been produced at Ellesmere Port since the first-generation car arrived in November 1981, with the plant itself celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2022.
It first began production of the Viva in 1962, followed by the Chevette and then the Astra hatchback and estate versions.
More than 5.2million vehicles rolling off the assembly line over the course of six decades – 4 million of them Astras.
The final model was celebrated with a gathering of the plant’s workforce as well as former employees who have overseen outputs of vehicles in Cheshire across the 60-year period.
The new eighth-generation Astra , which was unveiled last year and will cost from £24,315, is being built at Opel’s Rüsselsheim site in Germany
Ellesmere Port from 2023 will build electric Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot vans and MPVs. They will all be powered by a 100kW (136hp) electric motor with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery, offering a range of up to 174 miles and a zero-to-80% fast charge in half an hour
Paul Willcox, managing director at Vauxhall and senior vice-president for Stellantis, said: ‘Over the last 60 years, Ellesmere Port has become one of the great British car plants, producing some of the most popular cars on the roads across generations.
‘With one era closing, we’re now looking forward to an all-new electric era at Ellesmere, with the site becoming the first Stellantis plant to produce solely electric vehicles.
‘Vauxhall is fast moving towards an electric future and I’m pleased to see the next-generation of Vauxhall electric vehicles made in Britain.’
Vauxhall has committed to selling only electric vehicles from 2028, seven years ahead of the Government deadline, and says the transformation at Ellesmere Port will ‘ensure the UK remains at the forefront of electric vehicle manufacturing’.
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