Opel’s International Technical Development Centre (ITDC) in Rüsselsheim, Germany, wants to hire an extra 250 engineers as part of its product offensive, the company has announced. It will also increase the number of projects undertaken in the UK at GM’s engineering centre and proving ground in Millbrook.

The company has previously announced that it will invest EUR11bn to reinvigorate 80% of its model line-up by 2014. Among the projects is the introduction of new automobile concepts, such as the Opel/Vauxhall extended range electric vehicle, the Ampera. The ITDC in Rüsselsheim is collaborating with GM in the US on the development of the car’s battery, with the Ampera due to be introduced to the European market at the end of next year – followed by a right-hand drive UK version early in 2012.

Opel/Vauxhall’s Insignia and new Astra remain in strong demand. The plant in Rüsselsheim, where more than 200,000 Insignias have already been built, plans five extra shifts during May and June.

The company said it has already received 120,000 orders for its new five-door Astra hatchback, which was launched in October 2009. To meet demand, the plant in Gliwice, Poland, will add 17 extra shifts through June.

The company has also confirmed that the new Astra station wagon, the Sports Tourer, will be launched at the Paris motor show in October. The new version will be built at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant which will return to three-shift operation during 2011 using the existing workforce.