General Motors ending Bochum vehicle assembly
In a further blow to the already hard-hit Ruhr region, General Motors has now confirmed what many German workers have long feared - the end of vehicle assembly at its Bochum plant, opened in the early 1960s. Some warehouse and component making jobs will remain and the usual site redevelopment plans are taking shape but it's still another car plant gone, along with thousands of never-to-return jobs. All our coverage from the last year or so is here.
Opel's works council has slammed the automaker for "decades of management mistakes" and is threatening to withdraw any potential concessions unless the company offers "serious" talks on its German operations.
Managers at General Motors' German unit Adam Opel on Monday (10 December) told workers that vehicle production at the Bochum plant would when end the current Zafira model runs out in 2016.
While the bailed out, post-bankruptcy version of General Motors is doing well, there is a less successful legacy left behind in the form of 'old GM'.
LMC Automotive has raised the possibility General Motors may have to accelerate its programme of plant restructuring in Europe, while emphasising the need for high-capacity utilisation.
General Motors' Opel unit should move Mokka production to Europe from South Korea where it is currently produced if the economic crisis continues, said the company’s works council chief.
General Motors and alliance partner PSA Peugeot Citroen have halted talks on a deeper tie-up because of misgivings about the French carmaker's finances and government-backed bailout, sources have said.
General Motors Europe (GME) says it is targeting a further US$500m in savings from 2013 to 2015 and is expecting to reduce fixed costs by around US$300m this year as it looks to break even by mid-decade.
The decision by Ford to close its Genk manufacturing plant underscores the problem faced by volume car players in Western Europe's declining car market. The problem, in a nutshell, is matching supply with demand in a market that is more than 20% off where it was in 2007.
As the car market declines further in Europe, it is becoming clear that production overcapacity is a more pressing issue for some than for others. The problem is easily described, if not easily solved.
Plans for a production alliance between General Motors' European unit Opel and PSA Peugeot Citroen are already more advanced – and more detailed - than the companies admit publicly, a German newspaper said at the weekend.
General Motors has said it hopes soon to reach a "comprehensive" deal with its German unions to restructure its troubled Opel subsidiary as union leaders insisted plant closures were off the table.
Opel's Works Council is looking to secure the future of its existing contracts with the automaker following the sudden departure of Karl-Friedrich Stracke as CEO.
Opel interim chief executive Stephen Girsky has told employees changes have to be made at the carmaker to revitalise it, the German daily Bild said, citing his email to staff.
Opel is hinting at some of the possibly drastic measures to come in its rehabilitation plan due to be unveiled later this month as the automaker looks to halt its downward performance.
General Motors European unit Opel is talking with union IG Metall and works councils about extending a deal to avoid compulsory layoffs from 2014 to 2016 and delay a 2012 wage rise agreement.
General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson had said talks with Opel unions about the future of plants there were constructive but would not comment specifically on the future of Bochum.
Officially there are no plans to shift any South Korean General Motors production to Europe but unofficially it 'could' happen.
A single plant closure by each of General Motors and PSA - Bochum and Aulnay - "is not going to be enough for the current market situation", an analyst has said.
General Motors is being urged to look at building models such as Chevrolet in Europe as German politicians concede Opel workers are "fed up" with endless specualtion of potential plant closures in the country.
North-Rhein Westphalia's Prime Minister, Hannelore Kraft, says she will fly to Detroit for urgent talks with General Motors if such a visit can persuade the US automaker to retain its plants at Bochum.
Unlike staff at the English Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, whose recent win of the next generation Astra guarantees work until the early 2020s, workers at GM's Bochum plant in Germany were on Monday (21 May) told no decision had been made on their plant's future beyond 2014. The plant builds the Zafira and Zafira Tourer.
General Motors Europe's Opel /Vauxhall unit on Thursday (17 May) assured the future of its Ellesmere Port plant in northwest England with the announcement that it would be the lead plant of only two in Europe building the next generation Astra (internally coded T3600).
Four German State Prime Ministers have urged Opel production stay in Germany and that global markets be opened for its models.
Opel is distancing itself from reports it could move some Astra production from Russelsheim to Gliwice in Poland as it looks to address over-capacity issues in Europe.
Given the current furore surrounding over-capacity in Europe, I've been in what many would regard as the heart of the Continent's decision-making automotive process, namely Brussels.
The US United Auto Workers (UAW) announced its president, Bob King, had been appointed to the supervisory board of General Motor Europe's Opel.
Having not made, on Wednesday (28 March) any specific post-supervisory board meeting announcements on the future of Bochum and Ellesmere Port, General Motors' Opel on Thursday was reported to be considering the sale of its Eisenach plant in Germany where it manufactures the Corsa subcompact and was due to begin building the Junior later this year, according to Handelsblatt.
Senior union sources in Belgium claim Opel is attempting to play its German plants off against each other although the automaker insists both labour and management agree on the need to improve income.
Though General Motors Europe is likely to honour labour agreements keeping both plants open to the end of 2014, today's Opel supervisory board meeting was expected to earmark both Bochum in Germany and Ellesmere Port in England - both 50 years old this year - for closure, probably in 2015 - but the two plants were not mentioned specifically in despatches in the event.
Harry Voigtsberger, economy minister of Germany’s western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where General Motors Europe's Opel Bochum factory is located, has called on GM to use the coming two years to work out a “perspective” for the plant and its workforce.
European automotive supplier body, CLEPA, has cautioned major players on the continent not to engage in a battle with each other as unions issued a blunt letter to Opel's management on restructuring talks.
Following several media reports over the weekend and so far today (Monday, 26 March), there are ominous signs suggesting General Motors has decided, as widely speculated, eventually to close its Bochum plant in Germany and, possibly, Ellesmere Port in England, and replace the two plants' output with vehicles shipped from other factories across Europe and South Korea but likely not before agreements with unions expire in 2014.
Opel/Vauxhall unions are demanding immediate meetings with management as the noise surrounding rumoured plant closures reaches fever pitch.
Pan-European unions have cited recent comments by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne concerning capacity reduction as a "green light" for other automakers to wield the axe while rumours build of two Opel/Vauxhall plant closures.
Opel/Vauxhall is confirming it will take "two to three months" before specific details are unveiled concerning its restructuring plan designed to turn around colossal losses.
In something of a 'told you so' comment, former Magna International executive Siegfried Wolf, who led the global supplier and contract assembler's failed bid for Opel, has said General Motors' cost-cutting alliance with PSA Peugeot-Citroen showed it made the wrong call in pulling out of the deal.
General Motors' full-year EBIT-adjusted loss in Europe was US$0.7bn, "an improvement of $1.3bn over 2010", after an EBIT-adjusted loss of $0.6bn in the fourth quarter, including $0.2bn of restructuring costs, matching last year’s results, the automaker announced on Thursday (16 February).
General Motors will report a 2011 loss of "slightly more than US$1bn" for its European Opel/Vauxhall division on Thursday, monthly Manager Magazin reported in its online edition citing "insiders."
Opel's Works Council says it has no information the European automaker will renege on its deal to not force a series of site closures and redundancies.
In a declining market, options for Opel's new management in terms of reducing costs at General Motors' European operation - other than capacity and job cuts - are limited, IHS Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart wrote in a research note on Wednesday (23 November).
Opel wants parent General Motors to bring more production to Europe rather than other countries, according to media reports in Germany and India.
General Motors' Bochum works council has welcomed GM chief executive Dan Akerson's most forthright comments to date concerning any potential sale of Opel.
There were some strange goings on with Opel/Vauxhall in the media last week. Reports in Germany suggested that GM might be considering selling its financially challenged European division, leaving it to press on with developing the Chevrolet brand.
Opel's Works Council is not expecting any forced redundancies, from today's confirmation that 1,800 jobs will be lost at its Bochum plant, ahead of a mass meeting planned on 6 June to discuss the issue.
Opel has confirmed it will axe 1,800 of its 4,600-strong employees at the Bochum plant in Germany, although it is as yet unclear if any forced redundancies will be made.
Opel/Vauxhall's redesigned Zafira seven-seat MPV, previewed at this year’s Geneva show, will be in European showrooms by early 2012 after the production version makes its debut at September's Frankfurt show, GM Europe (GME) said on Wednesday (18 May, 2011). And the previous generation will remain on sale.
A European labour body has set itself firmly against potential plans by Opel to impose forced redundancies at its Bochum plant.
It seems Opel hasn't exactly been overwhelmed by staff at its Bochum plant looking to head for the exit.
Opel is to retain the option of forced redundancies at its Bochum plant as it seeks to slash a further 1,200 posts from its workforce.
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