Of all manufacturers building cars in the U.K., analysts say General Motors is the one mostly likely to shift its operations to mainland Europe if costs rise on the back of the country's decision to leave the European Union.
GM builds the Vauxhall/Opel Astra subcompact in Ellesmere Port in northwest England, but there was a "high" risk it would shift production to Germany or Poland, LMC Automotive said in a report. Doing so would protect the company should the EU decide to impose import tariffs on U.K. exports as a result of the Brexit. Closing the plant most likely would happen around 2021, when the replacement for the recently launched Astra arrives, LMC said.
Ellesmere Port is at risk because it has the lowest parts localization of any volume maker in the U.K., at around 25 percent, believes Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of motor industry economics at the U.K.'s Cardiff Business School. "It has a low anchorage, so in that sense, it's the most vulnerable," he said. GM has been making cars in the factory there since 1964.
A Vauxhall spokesman said it is "business as usual" until the U.K. thrashes out an agreement with the EU on their future relationship.