GM may close Opel’s German plant by 2015 and shift to low-cost plants

Article by Anita Panait, on March 26, 2012

General Motors Co. may shut down its production lines in the United Kingdom and Germany and shift them to low-cost countries like Mexico, Korea and China, Russia and Poland, German magazine Der Spiegel said quoting an internal strategy document entitled "Global Assembly Footprint.” 

According to Der Spiegel, citing the internal strategy document, the company would build additional vehicles in low-cost countries if car sales increase, while closing its factories in Ellesmere Port, UK and Bochum, Germany. Der Spiegel added that the document outlined a plan by GM to export an additional 300,000 vehicles to Europe from its sites in Mexico, Korea and China by 2016.

The company may close its Bochum site in 2016 but it will intensify production at its Gliwice plant in Poland by 25%. The Polish plant assembled 158,579 units of the Astra compact car and Zafira minivan in 2011.

With regards to reports that the company will transfer Opel’s car production out of Germany, a spokesman for GM in Europe said that the auto manufacturer has yet to decide on the matter.

A spokesman for Opel, meanwhile, said that GM would always grab opportunities that come up in the worldwide automotive market. Opel chief executive officer Karl-Friedrich Stracke, meanwhile, was reported by German daily Bild as saying that he dismissed plant closures and job cuts only in the near term. Stracke, however, said that Opel will not be limiting its efforts to become more profitable in the future.

The statements were spurred by reports by the German WAZ group of newspapers, citing government sources, that Stracke had informed German government about Opel plans to close its Bochum site.  The newspapers added that Stracke will meet with the workers union on Monday.  Stracke has assured that the plants were not primed for closures at least until the end of 2014. A spokeswoman for Germany's Economy Ministry said the government is monitoring the situation closely with Opel’s management.

Topics: gm, opel

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