General Motors must cut costs in Germany, where the bulk of its European plants are based, chief financial officer John Devine told analysts and reporters on Tuesday, but he ruled out closing facilities there in the near term.
“We have to cut our costs in Germany and elsewhere in Europe,” Devine said during a conference call, according to Reuters, which noted he was the latest in a series of GM executives to talk about forthcoming changes for its unprofitable European operations.
Devine reportedly said GM had “too big a footprint” in Germany, using the industry term for location of vehicle manufacturing plants.
“Europe is a very difficult environment to cut costs. We aren’t announcing any plant closures. We don’t have any plans for that,” Devine said, according to Reuters.
However, one Wall Street analyst reportedly said plant closings could occur.
“There has been press speculation recently that GM will try a new strategy in Europe to jump-start its results, and we can only think that this will involve plant closings, but the company had nothing to say on the subject,” Merrill Lynch analyst John Casesa said in a research report cited by Reuters.
The news agency said Devine’s comments follow statements earlier this month from GM executives about more cost cuts coming for Europe, where GM lost $US504 million last year.
On Tuesday, GM said that its losses from GM Europe mounted, rising to $116 million in the first quarter from $65 million in the year-ago quarter due to pricing pressures and costs for the ramp-up and launch of the new Astra, Reuters added.
The news agency noted that GM had forecast in January that Europe would break even or earn a profit of as much as $100 million this year, but Devine reportedly said GM was unhappy with the earnings outlook.
Devine also said that previous restructurings had done a good job at cutting fixed costs, but GM could also work harder to cut material costs, the report said.
“On the cost side, we’ve done a lot, but I would suggest that we’re not done,” he said, according to Reuters, adding: “We have to get into the black.”