Opel/Vauxhall plans to reduce the working hours at two of its four plants in Germany in response to a dive in demand for vehicles in Europe. The European unit of General Motors announced Thursday that it would stop production for 20 days at its main factory in Ruesselsheim and its engine plant in Kaiserslautern between September and the end of the year.
Holger Kimmes, head of personnel at Opel/Vauxhall, remarked that until recently, the decreased production schedules could be offset by implementing corridor shifts and accrued overtime.
Kimmes admitted that short work is the right bridging measure. Opel/Vauxhall disclosed that for manufacturing operations, hours will be cut by short-work shifts or short-work days starting in September while for administrative and service functions, the hour reduction will be implemented in October. The carmaker said that engineering jobs would not be affected by the working hour reduction.
The Ruesselsheim site is Opel's biggest production hub, building the Astra compact and Insignia mid-sized models. Aside from Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern, Opel also has production plants in Bochum and Eisenach. GM’s European operations posted $747 million in losses in 2011, as the current economic crisis in the continent continues to affect car sales.
Carmakers having operations in the continent are forced to tackle high fixed costs and excess production capacity, which according to GM, equates to 10 plants. The work-hour reduction plan will affect around half of Opel’s 13,800 employees in Ruesselsheim, according to the company. Opel’s Kaiserslautern factory employs around 2,500 people. Opel workers affected by the cuts will be entitled to subsidies under the German government's short-work program, named Kurzarbeit.
The latest edition of Opel Astra launched its own version of its brand’s award-winning design by combining German precision with sculptural artistry as first seen in the Insignia.
Opel debuts a fresh sporty look with a strong coupé-like silhouette as well as elegant details. Its proportions provide a strong, cab-forward silhouette matched with a windshield that’s steeply-raked and a falling rear roofline which adds thrill to the usual hatchback format.
According to Mark Adams, Vice President of Design in General Motors Europe, the key aspect in every Opel model is its strong personality and this is the reason why the design cues first featured in Insignia such as the blade and the wing bring life to the shapes and were given fresh interpretation in the new version of Opel Astra.
A dynamic inverted blade is used in the flank of this new version which connects visually to the movement of the C-Pillar and the rear window. Double wing-shapes in every rear light are set in the back end for easy identification.
The interior signifies the flowing forms of the curvaceous shapes, sweeping lines and the rest of the bodywork which are all part of the new Opel’s design language. The wraparound wing shape that arcs into the top of the door moldings is part of the model’s signature design cue, seemingly giving a warm embrace to the passengers, providing a homey ambiance that is enhanced by a red diffused light at night and illuminates the front door panels as well as the center stack base.