UK plant touted as electric car manufacturing HQ

Posted on 23 Jul 2008 by The Manufacturer

A Vauxhall factory in Merseyside is being considered by General Motors for the European production base of its much anticipated electric model, the Volt.

GM Europe boss Carl Peter-Forster touted Vauxhall’s Ellesmore Port plant as a possible location for manufacturing its ground-breaking plug-in fuelled vehicle after listening to Gordon Brown promise £90 million pounds worth of investment in eco-friendly automotive technology, at the British motor show yesterday. The site would manufacture the model under GM’s Vauxhall, Opel and Chevrolet brands for distribution across the continent.

The car, due for US release in 2010, will run 40-50 miles on electricity, based on a four-hour charge. A small petrol or diesel engine then recharges the car while keeping the driver on the road. In terms of power and design, it is compared with the Vauxhall Astra, though with an estimated forecourt price of £20,000, it is slightly more expensive. GM say the extra cost will be offset by savings however, like the estimated £150 in annual fuel costs, lowest-level road tax and waived congestion fee for Londoners. The Volt is estimated to produce around 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, half that of a hybrid.

GM is now working on strategies to provide ample charging facilities for when the car is commercially released. Parking spaces at supermarkets and multi-storeys being equipped with charge points is an idea currently thought favourable.

Predictions by industry analysts place the demand for the Volt in North America at around 70,000 by 2013. European estimates have not been released.

The British International motor show opens fully tomorrow at the Excel Centre, London, after a press day yesterday and VIP preview today. Over 600 cars will be featured at the venue which will later in the year host The Manufacturer’s own ‘Live’ event.