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GM's Vauxhall announces that new Astra model of cars will be built at British plant
LONDON (AP) ' General Motors' Vauxhall plant in northern England will build the company's next-generation Astra vehicles, the automaker said Thursday ' a relief for U.K. politicians who had lobbied its American owner to keep the plant open.
The announcement comes after workers at the Ellesmere Port plant, near Liverpool, overwhelmingly backed a job deal which turned the factory into a 24-hour-a-day operation, a key cost-cutting measure pursued by parent company GM Europe.
GM Europe lost $700 million in 2011 and has been struggling to turn around its Opel and Vauxhall brands. It had been feared the company would close the Ellesmere Port facility in favor of consolidating production elsewhere ' such as its headquarters in Ruesselsheim in Germany or Gliwice in Poland.
The announcement ' which comes with a 125 million pound (nearly $200 million) investment and 700 extra jobs ' is a break for leaders such as British Business Secretary Vince Cable, who fought hard to keep the British plant open.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking from the northern city of Manchester, called the decision "a fantastic vote of confidence."
"The U.K. government gave this its full backing. The unions supported the necessary changes. The workforce has responded magnificently. It is a British success story," he said.
Cable, who at one point traveled to the U.S. to plead the plant's case, told BBC television that no financial inducements were offered to GM to keep the U.K. facility open, saying the move underlined that the U.K. is "a good business environment for the motor industry."
Production of the new car is due to begin in 2015, with at least 160,000 vehicles scheduled to be produced every year.