Now Vauxhall's electric future gets a boost.

The future of the Vauxhall car factory at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire was secured on Tuesday with the announcement it was to be transformed into a plant producing electric vehicles.

The decision by Vauxhall's parent company Stellantis, which has secured substantial financial from the UK government, will safeguard more than a thousand jobs at the factory and up to five times that number in the supply chain.Stellantis said that a government grant, coupled with a £100 million investment of its own, would make Ellesmere Port its "first manufacturing site dedicated to battery electric vans and passenger car models for Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën" - the other major brands within the group.The announcement came less than a week after Nissan revealed plans to build a £1 billion battery 'gigafactory' at its car plant in Sunderland in a move expected to create 1,650 jobs at the factory and 4,000-plus in the supply chain.The future of the Vauxhall plant had been in doubt ever since Stellantis abandoned plans to build its new Astra car model there.But Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis, said on Tuesday: "Performance is always the trigger for sustainability and this £100 million investment demonstrates our commitment to the UK and to Ellesmere Port."Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the investment, saying it would "secure thousands of jobs across the region in the supply chain".He added: "Ellesmere Port's proud tradition in auto manufacturing will continue for many years to come thanks to today's investment."In this global race to secure electric vehicle production, we are proud to support Britain's auto sector in this crucial transition as we work to build back better."Experts, however, have expressed concerns that as Stellantis has no battery manufacturing capacity in the UK (the company has plans to build such plants in France and Germany, with a third possibly located in Italy), electric vehicles produced in Ellesmere Port could be overly expensive in the long run if they have to rely on imported electric power.Prof David Bailey, an economist at Birmingham Business School, told the BBC: "There is no (Stellantis) battery plant being built in the UK, so if batteries are being brought in from France and elsewhere, that's going to add to costs and it's going leave Ellesmere Port as a relatively high-cost location."Longer term, we're going to need a lot of batteries in the UK and we will need battery plants to keep mass car and vehicle production here." Theo Leggett, the BBC's business correspondent, commented: "The outlook for the British automotive industry is certainly a lot rosier now than it was just a few months ago."Without investment in new products every few years, car plants die; and the ageing factory at Ellesmere Port has long been regarded as particularly vulnerable."But there's a long way to go to secure the future of car manufacturing, as it prepares for an all-electric future. After years of uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit, which made carmakers reluctant to commit to new plans, the UK is still playing catch-up."So while the news from Nissan and Vauxhall has been widely welcomed, people within the sector agree that much more is needed."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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