GM Europe president Carl-Peter Forster has said he is not troubled by the current discussion about energy efficiency and lower emissions. In fact, he sees it more as a 'plus point' for the Opel, Chevrolet, Saab and Cadillac brands.

"The fact that more car buyers are taking the environmental compatibility and energy balance of their cars into consideration is a good thing for us," says Forster.

At the same time, he called for a closer cooperation between motor vehicle producers, the oil industry and politicians so that solutions to climate protection can be found.

Said Forster: "The consumer must be able to afford environmental technology. This is the only way to put it on a broad and effective basis".

Forster said that, thanks to the debate, there is growing demand for the Corsa with 1.3-litre diesel engine, which emits 119g/km CO2, meaning that carbon dioxide emissions across the whole model line are reduced. Within the Corsa range, more than 90% of the cars sold in Germany are below the level of 140 g CO2/km.

In addition, the entire Astra range has been revised and fitted with new, even more economical engines. Opel will also launch a completely redesigned Agila (a five-seat mini-minivan) next year, which will also boast very low fuel consumption CO2 emissions.

Looking at future development in Europe, Forster underlined an ever-increasing division in the markets. While the aim in western Europe's mostly saturated, mature markets is to improve the entry level segment with attractive, well-equipped vehicles, central and eastern Europe's markets offer considerable opportunities for growth.

Starting late 2007, the Astra sedan model will be built in Gliwice, Poland. GME expects this additional model will continue to increase Opel sales in the region.

Chevrolet is GME's fastest-growing brand in eastern European countries and it has therefore decided to increasingly shift production from Korea to Europe. Forster said that instead of the 25,000 units originally planned, GME now wants to produce around 70,000 vehicles a year from 2008 at a new plant in St. Petersburg, Russia.