Spanish king Felipe VI signed the first Zaragoza-assembled Opel Mokka watched by Opel Group CFO Michael Lohscheller

Spanish king Felipe VI signed the first Zaragoza-assembled Opel Mokka watched by Opel Group CFO Michael Lohscheller

Opel's Mokka small SUV (also sold as a Vauxhall in UK) is now assembled at General Motors' assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain.

Production started from CKD (completely knocked down) parts kits from GM Korea but local content will increase in the coming years.

"Producing the Mokka here is in line with our company philosophy to build cars where we sell them," said Opel Group CFO Michael Lohscheller. "This year, around 20,000 Mokkas will roll off the assembly line in Zaragoza. Next year this number will increase considerably."

Spanish King Felipe VI was guest of honour at the official start of production ceremony.

"Demand for the Mokka remains huge: we have received more than 275,000 orders since its market launch in the summer of 2012," said Lohscheller. "This has made the SUV our third most important model within just two years."

Opel plans to spend about EUR210m this year after a EUR168m spend at Zaragoza last year. It spent EUR80m on the initial phase of Mokka production.

Opel said manufacturing the SUV in Spain will secure the 5,700 jobs in the plant. Corsa and Meriva models are also built in Zaragoza and the next big SOP is the fifth generation Corsa later this year.

GM prepared Zaragoza for the Mokka in just over a year after the decision to produce the car in Europe was announced. It was moved partly to take advantage of under-use of capacity in Europe, and to answer works council concerns over the closure of Bochum while vehicles were still being imported from South Korea. Labour relations and the political situation in Korea were also likely to have been considered.

"The challenges [the move] posed were mastered thanks to excellent international collaboration within General Motors," Opel said.

Up until now, the Mokka was produced solely in South Korea. Versions from the factory there are also sold as the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore.

"The Mokka is a key part of our large model offensive," said Lohscheller. "To 2018, we will introduce 27 new cars and 17 new engines as we grow our market share step by step."