Volvo has agreed to work with the Government and Ayrshire enterprise agencies to secure an engineering manufacturing future for its Irvine plant in Scotland.
Last week, the Swedish vehicle manufacturer, which has been taken over by Ford, said it would close its Irvine bus and truck plant with the loss of 450 jobs. Volvo is moving production to plants in Belgium and Sweden which have surplus capacity.
The new agreement follows a meeting between Scottish Business and Industry Minister Lord MacDonald and the president of Volvo Truck, Karl Erling Trogen.
Although not reversing its decision, Volvo has agreed in principle to source work from any new successor company running the plant. It has also agreed to encourage its UK suppliers to source work from a continuing production site at Irvine.
An early audit of the plant’s capacity and skills will be carried out to establish how best a new business operation could be phased in before production shuts down in 18 months time.
Irvine makes 3,000 chassis a year. Volvo’s other plants in Sweden and Belgium produce 17,000 and 35,000 respectively.
Unions, keen for Volvo to reverse its closure decision, said the news was ‘some light at the end of the tunnel’.
Leaders of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union in Scotland will meet Volvo’s director of global manufacturing later this month, and hope to persuade Volvo to form a partnership with ‘another related business to offer a total manufacturing facility at Irvine’.
‘Irvine has the potential to offer a chassis and coach building operation, as operated by Volvo in Sweden,’ said AEEU regional convenor Alec McIntyre.