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September 4, 2009

GERMANY: Opel sales pass 2008 total

Opel said it had sold more cars in Germany since January than in all of last year thanks to the government’s scrappage scheme and was now re-considering lay offs at one of its plants.

Opel said it had sold more cars in Germany since January than in all of last year thanks to the government’s scrappage scheme and was now re-considering lay offs at one of its plants.

In the first eight months of 2009, the company delivered 280,705 vehicles, surpassing the 2008 total of 272,898, said sales director Michael Klaus.

Sales of 32,600 cars marked the highest monthly level for August since 2000 and the company announced that partial unemployment measures planned at its Bochum plant, which assembles Astras, would be cancelled.

Germany’s car scrapping rebate paid drivers EUR2,500 (US$3,550) to turn in an old car for a new one. However, the scheme ended on Wednesday and analysts said sales of small cars were likely to fall again next year.

Meanwhile, Opel’s parent company General Motors has still to decide whether it will sell a stake in the automaker or possibly retain all of its shares.

The Wall Street Journal said yesterday that GM expected to get EUR1bn (US$1.4bn) in financial aid from Britain, Poland and Spain, where it also has factories, on top of state support already provided by Germany.

This could allow GM to avoid selling a majority stake in Opel to either the Canadian auto parts maker Magna , which is backed by Russian partners, or the Belgian-based investment fund RHJ International .

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