Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, will hold talks with the new boss of Vauxhall’s parent company this week as it prepares to finalise a takeover by France’s PSA Group that will create Europe’s second-largest car-maker.
Sky News understands that Mr Clark will meet Michael Lohscheller, who took over as chief executive of Opel just three weeks ago, during a visit to the UK.
It follows the announcement earlier this year that PSA would buy Opel from General Motors for about £1.9bn.
Their meeting will come as data from the car industry trade body suggests that investment in the sector in Britain showed a sharp decline during the first half of this year.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told the Financial Times that the slump from £1.66bn in the whole of 2016 to £322m between January and June of this year was due to uncertainty over Brexit.
“It’s very difficult to cost investment if you don’t know what your output price is going to be,” he said.
Image: Business Secretary Greg Clark MP will hold a meeting with car boss Michael Lohscheller
Ministers have been engaged in frantic discussions since last year’s EU referendum to secure long-term commitments from international car manufacturers amid fears of an exodus if Britain fails to negotiate favourable Brexit terms.
Nissan has pledged to build its new Qashqai and X-Trail models at its Sunderland plant, which is one of the biggest employers in the north-east.
However, the Government has faced heavy criticism for refusing to publish a letter sent to the company ahead of its decision being announced last autumn.
BMW, the German car-maker, will announce within weeks whether it will build its new Mini in the UK – and Mr Clark has held several meetings with the company to persuade it to retain its British manufacturing base.
His meeting with Mr Lohscheller, who will leave Vauxhall’s parent when its sale to Peugeot-owner PSA is complete, is part of a continuing series of engagements with the industry, according to insiders.
“Vauxhall has a long history of success in this country and we are determined to see that continue,” Mr Clark said in February.
“The Government welcomes the assurance by PSA that they will respect the commitments made by GM to Vauxhall’s employees and pensioners.
“We will continue to engage and work with PSA in the weeks and months ahead to ensure these assurances are kept and will build on the success of both sites for the long term.”
Mr Clark has insisted that the Government’s new industrial strategy will provide robust support to developers of the technology that will power vehicles of the future.
A BEIS spokeswoman declined to comment on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting with Mr Lohscheller.