The largest US automaker has been manufacturing cars in the United Kingdom since 1964 – and there’s a chance now General Motors might be the first automotive victim of Brexit.
GM is reportedly the first major carmaker to consider removing its manufacturing presence from the UK to mainland Europe following the rather surprising results of the referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union. Opel, for example, is today producing the new Astra in Ellesmere Port in northwest England in a factory that has the smallest level of parts localization among the major automakers – so the company is weary that raised import taxes and export duties would severely impact the costs of the manufacturing process. The Ellesmere Port plant might be in jeopardy due to that consideration, “It has a low anchorage, so in that sense, it’s the most vulnerable,” comments Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of motor industry economics at the Cardiff Business School.
LMC Automotive considers Opel could easily switch production from the facility to either Poland or Germany. If such a decision is taken, the move would not happen very soon, though, most likely becoming valid approximately 2021, when the new generation of the compact is slated for arrival. Until then GM’s UK units are going about their businesses until they see a final agreement between the European Union and the UK on the subject of their continued relations.