General Motors’ German unit Adam Opel said on Wednesday a sharp fall in demand for cars had made it much more difficult for it to reach its goal of breaking even this year, according to Reuters.

“The whole car market has shrunk very significantly in western and central Europe and Opel is being affected,” an Opel spokesman told the news agency. “We are sticking to our targets at the moment but it has become a whole lot more difficult.”

Reuters noted that Opel posted an operating loss of 227 million euros ($US261 million) in 2002 after a record 674 million loss the previous year, but is in the middle of a turnaround plan aimed at returning it to profit by the end of this year.

The spokesman told Reuters Opel may consider additional cost cuts beyond those in its “Olympia” plan, which included about 2,500 job cuts last year and also involves a range of new products. He reportedly declined to say whether further jobs would be lost.

Reuters also noted that GM Europe, which includes Opel as well as the Vauxhall and Saab brands, warned in March it may miss its break-even target this year and could lose as much as 200 million euros as it struggles with a grim economy in its main German market.

GM Europe vice president of sales and marketing, Jonathan Browning, told Reuters on Monday he expected Europe’s car market to shrink four or five percent this year, a sharper fall than envisaged at the start of the year, the report added.