GMM Luton–decision within 6 weeks

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A decision is to be made by GM within the next six weeks on whether the Luton GMM plant is to be closed in 2013, when the current commercial vehicle production ends.

Although General Motors and Renault have renewed their joint venture agreement beyond 2013 to develop and build light commercial vans, there is no guarantee that they will continue to be built at the Luton plant.

Observers noted that the GM/Renault joint press release last month did not mention Luton.

It said: ‘There are many aspects of the project to discuss and agree.

‘No further details regarding the product specification, investments or business arrangements will therefore be communicated at this point in time.’

In remarks made at the Paris Show on September 30, GM Europe chief executive Nick Reilly, a former Vauxhall chairman, said he was ‘confident’ that Luton would continue to make the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic but added that this was not a certainty.

He said that if Luton was to lose the business, he was looking at other ways to utilise the plant, although he did not expand further.

GM Europe has already announced the closure of its Antwerp plant in Belgium. It has been seeking a buyer interested in continuing car production, but the deadline for offers closed on September 30.

Reilly added that GM Europe’s plans to cut costs by 20 per cent were nearly complete following negotiations with trade unions in Germany, Spain and the UK.

He said: ‘We have asked a lot of our workforce in terms of job losses and reductions in bonuses, but we have got there.

‘I think we have a chance to be profitable next year, 12 months ahead of schedule and in a market that is still pretty weak – around 3m fewer car sales in Europe than the 17m in 2007.’