Blog: Dave LeggettGM's European plant volumes and employment

Dave Leggett | 29 October 2003

Just found myself on GM's European media website and there is some useful data there. You have to be very careful with employment data and vehicle assembly numbers, but a look at GM's output and employment numbers by plant suggests that GM's basic problem is that its European production pattern is skewed towards relatively high cost locations. In a nutshell, there's still a lot going on in Germany and less than the accountants would like in lower cost Spain and Portugal. A plant in dirt cheap Turkey - no tariffs on imports of CBU vehicles from Turkey to EU - wouldn't go amiss either.

I don't know if the German VDA still conducts its survey of labour costs in the industry across Europe, but it used to show Germany way out on top in terms of hourly labour rates for assembly workers - with Iberian countries at the bottom. In 2002, GM's Bochum Germany plant made 292,000 Astras and Zafiras, with 8,300 - quite pricey remember - workers. But Zaragoza Spain managed some 380,000 Corsas (and deriviants) with 8,200 (el cheapo) workers. But I'm not saying that the situation is easy to resolve, just that the chickens sometimes come home to roost when companies are too late or reluctant to take difficult decisions on capacity.


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