Negotiations over the future of Opel's Antwerp plant are proving decidedly difficult.

Unions and management met in Ruesselsheim yesterday but failed to reach any agreement. The management is offering that one model could be built at a rate of around 80,000 units a year by 2010, but unions are calling for production volumes of around 200,000 units. Head of the Opel works council, Klaus Franz, told the German press agency: "The plant must produce a second model. Anything else would be a solution that we would not accept."

The discussions are the result of the recent announcement that GM Europe would not build the next generation Astra at the plant. That model will go into production in 2010 in Bochum, Ellesmere Port, Gliwice and Saab's plant in Trollhattan. The Belgian plant is left without a model to produce. It is currently in the process of dropping one shift and reducing the workforce by around 1,400 people. Around 200,000 Astras are produced each year in Antwerp.

Franz has suggested that Opel build Chevrolet models at Antwerp as the brand expands in Europe. Currently built in South Korea, this might save around €500 per vehicle in transportation costs to Europe.

Talks are expected to continue at the beginning of May.