Vauxhall is to set up a new £5m engineering centre near Bedford, creating more than 75 jobs.
The centre’s two main projects would be further development of the General Motors/Isuzu Frontera and a new van.
The decision comes 10 years after parent company General Motors moved its European engineering operations to Russelsheim in Germany.
Vauxhall chairman and managing director Nick Reilly said the decision was ‘connected with our push into the commercial vehicle sector. Across Europe we’re not a big player in that sector, but through our tie-up with Renault on medium and heavy-duty vans there’s a prospect of becoming a big player.’
Vauxhall already markets the large Renault Master van as the Movano and the companies are jointly developing a medium-sized van which will replace the Renault Trafic and the Vauxhall Arena.
The IBC plant at Luton, Vauxhall’s joint venture with Frontera off-roader manufacturer Isuzu, is a front-runner among General Motors plants to build the new small van.
Reilly said the centre would work closely with Russelsheim on generic aspects of vehicle development.
The centre is expected to be operational by May in temporary offices close to the Millbrook proving ground near Bedford.
Initially, some of the engineering posts will be filled by existing General Motors engineers now based at Russelsheim, or attached to Renault in Paris or Isuzu in Japan.
‘But the majority will be new jobs for the UK,’ Reilly said.