IT is more than 60 years since the first car rolled off the production line at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant on June 1, 1964.

The landmark 60th anniversary was celebrated at the plant today (Wednesday, June 12).

Constructed in 1962 and opened in 1964 producing the Vauxhall Viva, the Ellesmere Port factory has produced celebrated models such as the Vauxhall Chevette and, since 1980, seven generations of the hugely popular Vauxhall Astra.

During its lifetime, the plant produced more than a million units of the Viva, more than a quarter of a million Vauxhall Chevettes, and more than 4.1 million Vauxhall Astras.

Among the staff and local dignitaries was Kieth Tabiner, who was on the production line at Ellesmere Port in 1964 when the first Vauxhall Viva was produced. His three sons, Mark, Mike and Phil, also work at Ellesmere Port today, meaning that the Tabiner family has a combined 152 years of employment at the plant.

The first Vauxhall Viva, produced on June 1, 1964.The first Vauxhall Viva, produced on June 1, 1964. (Image: Stellantis)

Keith Tabiner said: “Having witnessed the first Vauxhall Viva roll of the production line in 1964, and worked at Ellesmere Port for a total of 40 years, it’s a pleasure to be back and see the plant going from strength to strength making the electric vehicles of the future. I’ve always driven Vauxhalls and with three of my sons following in my footsteps and working at the plant today, everything we have is thanks to Ellesmere Port.”

Diane Miller, Ellesmere Port Plant Director, said: “We are excited to mark such an impressive milestone, celebrating production that began sixty years ago with the Viva, and now continues into the future with electric vans from Fiat, Citroën, Peugeot, Opel and Vauxhall. For six decades, Ellesmere Port has been a central pillar of the local area, and whose people have continually taken great pride in their work at the plant to provide millions of vehicles for the UK and beyond and now continue to do so in the transition to a more sustainable future.”

In 1970 Ellesmere Port occupied more than 350,000m2, but has since undergone several key changes, including the addition of a battery assembly shop, upgraded General Assembly and relocation of the bodyshop. This has contributed to a 60 per cent reduction of the total site area for improved energy efficiency and productivity. At 118,000m2, the entire plant is now a similar size to the previous bodyshop.

Ellesmere Port’s transition to electric-only production continues Vauxhall’s tradition of building vehicles in the UK, which started at the company’s Luton plant in 1905, having transferred from Vauxhall in London where it started in 1903. From next year, Luton will begin producing medium electric vans for Vauxhall, Opel, Citroën, Peugeot and Fiat Professional.

The Stellantis Ellesmere Port plant is now a key part of British electric vehicle (EV) production, being the UK’s first EV-only volume manufacturing plant following a £100m investment by Stellantis as part of the company’s Dare Forward 2030 commitment to become carbon neutral by 2038. Production of EVs began at Ellesmere Port in September last year, with the Vauxhall/Opel Combo Electric, Citroën ë-Berlingo, Fiat e-Doblò and Peugeot E-Partner being produced there.

Maria Grazia Davino, Group Managing Director, Stellantis UK, remarked: “It is gratifying to celebrate six decades of vehicle production at Ellesmere Port, which continues to produce the latest generation of electric vans. Stellantis is the only OEM producing vans, including electric vans, in volume in the UK, and I would like to share my congratulations to the employees at the plant, who continue to work incredibly hard to produce the vehicles that will help to electrify businesses across the UK and in the more than 20 countries to which we export electric vans.”