Vauxhall could thrive as a “unique survivor” in the British automotive industry after the country leaves the EU, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said.
Tavares said that a bad Brexit outcome when the UK leaves the EU at the end of March could result in the closing of Vauxhall’s plant in Ellesmere Port, which currently builds the Astra. “We can go to the dark side and say, well perhaps we have to shut down plants. And if we have to make unpopular decisions we will,” Tavares said.
The other outcome is that Vauxhall actually benefits from Brexit and finds success as one of the last true British car brands, Tavares said. “PSA is uniquely positioned in the UK. Let’s not forget that the Vauxhall brand is warm to the hearts of UK consumers. We may have best opportunity to survive and make the best business out of it,” he told analysts and journalists at PSA’s annual results event.
Question marks about Ellesmere Port’s future have persisted after PSA cut over 800 jobs at the plant citing falling demand for the Astra, which is also made in Poland. PSA said last year it will make a decision in 2020 ahead of the car’s replacement in 2023.
The UK has strung out a decision on its future trading relationship with the EU right to the last minute, frustrating businesses who have withheld investment plans until a decision is reached. Automakers have warned that a hard Brexit with no deal in place with the EU would be catastrophic to manufacturing and car sales.
Last year PSA committed to keeping the second UK plant at Luton, by announcing it would build midsize vans for Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen starting this year.