There were no words of comfort in Beijing for General Motors’ European operations from the US giant’s chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson.

“It’s going to be some time before we make money in Europe when you look at the macro economics of the region,” he said.

Akerson would not be drawn on any possible plant closures which could affect Opel or Vauxhall operations but he added that he is concerned about over capacity in Europe. “We have to match production to demand and that clearly does not happen in Europe. There is also a very poor export model so everyone is relying on sales within the region.”

Problems in Europe will be an issue for GM’s new alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen . The French manufacturer sells 86% of its products within Europe. Akerson said: “That’s something they need to fix. You can’t be reliant on a market that has such economic problems.

“But there are ways we can help each other, initially in terms of logistics, purchasing and finance.  Longer term, there are technologies we can share.”

Back in the US, things look much brighter for GM as it has started making money again following its emergence from bankruptcy. Akerson said: “We are a much leaner operation now and we certainly got caught out by the economic downturn. There was certainly too much arrogance in Detroit, among all the car makers. We were not as adaptable as we should have been and it’s a lesson learned.”