2,300 jobs go as Peugeot car plant closes

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The Independent Online

Peugeot's decision to end UK production next year ends a near 30-year association with Ryton and decades of motoring history at the Coventry plant.

It was the Rootes Group, founded by William Rootes in 1919, that built the Ryton assembly plant in 1940, initially producing Second World War aircraft engines.

Rootes, with America's Chrysler which took it over in 1967, was to turn out some of the great names of UK motoring such as the Hillman Hunter and Sunbeam Alpine. Another of the Ryton-produced favourites was the Hillman Avenger.

Chrysler eventually struggled at Ryton, with Chrysler Europe collapsing in 1977. The company was taken over by Peugeot for a nominal one dollar in 1978.

The Peugeot 309 and 405, and then the 309's successor, the 306, were all made at the plant.

When, in the mid-1980s, Peugeot started producing the 309 at Ryton it finally decided to shelve the Talbot name under which it had been operating at Coventry.

In October 1998, Peugeot started making the 206 at Ryton, with the 206 SW production beginning in July 2002.

In September 2001, Ryton workers celebrated building their half-millionth Peugeot 206, reaching the milestone in less than three years.

By the end of last year, Peugeot had produced more than 4.5 million 206s worldwide, with 518,868 made in 2005.

There were more than 300,000 of the 206 SWs made worldwide by the end of 2005, with nearly 75,000 produced in 2005.

Peugeot has made the 206 van at Ryton since April 2000. Until the end of 2005, 208,259 of these vans had been produced worldwide, with more than 29,000 of these being made last year.

Peugeot had sold more than 520,000 206s in the UK by the end of last year, including more than 55,000 in 2005.

Peugeot enjoyed a 2.92% share of the UK new car market last year, selling 144,332 cars compared with 167,822 in 2004.

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