New Astra is crucial to the future of Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory

It was the big launch of the new Astra model at the Frankfurt Motor Show yesterday, and an equally big day for the hopes of Vauxhall in the UK.

With major job losses looming large following five months of torturous negotiations about the future of General Motors Europe, which includes Vauxhall in the UK and Germany's Opel, the modernity and efficiency of Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire has been much touted.

After Magna International agreed to buy the group last week, staff are waiting anxiously to find out where the axe will fall.

The new Astra, which will initially be built only at Ellesmere Port and exported for sale across the EU, could mean the difference between a factory on the closure list and one that survives.