Peugeot agrees to expand production at Vauxhall's Luton plant

PSA confirms the new Peugeot Expert will be built in UK

The future for Vauxhall’s Luton plant has been assured with Vauxhall/Opel owner PSA confirming that the next generation of Vivaro van will be built in Luton. The new model will go on sale mid-2019.

Speaking at the announcement in the factory, PSA Chairman Carlos Tavares said: “This is a major milestone for the future of the Luton plant and a key enabler to serve our ambitions in the commercial vehicle market, guaranteeing customers the best offering in this segment.”

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Tavares announced that production would increase in Luton from 2017’s 70,000 vehicles to 100,000, with the new van based on the PSA group EMP2 platform that underpins everything from the Peugeot 3008 to the new DS 7. This is likely to mean a move over to PSA diesel engines to power the Vivaro and we can also expect hybrid and full-ev models, with the chairman revealing that the new Vivaro will be electrified at some point in its lifecycle.

Although the announcement only mentioned Vauxhall and Opel Vivaro models, PSA confirmed that Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch will also be built in Luton alongside Vauxhall and Opel versions of the Vivaro if demand for vans continues to increase.

Luton’s future has been secured following discussions between PSA, the UK Government and Luton Borough Council, with the UK contributing a £9m investment in the plant on top of PSA’s outlay on the project of close to £100m.

Business secretary Greg Clarke, also present at the announcement, said: “Today’s decision is a vote of confidence in Vauxhall’s highly skilled workforce and the UK’s world-leading automotive sector. The investment in upgrading the production platform will safeguard and grow jobs, ensuring the future of the Luton plant well into the next decade and help ensure the plant is well positioned for future Vauxhall models to be made in the UK.”

Van sales across Europe increased rapidly in 2017, with PSA taking over half of that growth. Although van sales dropped in the UK in 2017, sales have picked up again in 2018 with sales rising 6.4% in February.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes said: “This announcement is great news for the UK automotive sector and, especially, the Luton plant. The UK continues to be a centre of excellence for vehicle production thanks to our engineering expertise, high levels of productivity and a collaborative relationship with government which has enabled us to build a robust industrial strategy and a sector deal. We will continue to work with policy makers to ensure the UK remains as competitive as possible now and in the future so we can continue to build on our long heritage in vehicle manufacturing.”

The current Luton-built Vauxhall Vivaro van was launched in 2014 under a partnership with Renault, Nissan and Fiat that also produced the respective Trafic, NV300 and Talento vans from those marques. The acquisition of Vauxhall and Opel by PSA in 2017 has resulted in the decision to switch the Vivaro onto the PSA group’s architecture from mid-2019 and it means the van will use the same EMP2 platform that already underpins the current versions of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert vans.