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Opel to close assembly plant in Germany

Keywords: Tags  Adam Opel, Bochum, Zafira, Germany, General Motors, Steve Girsky, Ford, sales production capacity

CHICAGO — Adam Opel AG management notified employees at its Bochum, Germany, auto plant that manufacturing will cease at the end of the current Zafira production cycle in 2016.

Owned by General Motors Co., Detroit, Opel said this past June that it wasn’t planning a successor product to the Zafira in view of the shrinking European car market and industrywide overcapacity.

The warehouse in Bochum will continue to offer jobs beyond 2016 and could be expanded, and Opel is negotiating with employee representatives to allocate new component production in Bochum.

A working group has formed to develop the site, secure existing jobs and create new ones in the region. The group has “a clear goal for securing a significant number of ... jobs at Opel,” GM vice chairman, chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board and acting president of GM Europe, Stephen Girsky said in a statement Monday.

“Opel will implement job reductions in the most socially responsible way. (We will) refrain from forced redundancies before the run-out of the current Zafira,” Ginsky said.

In spite of the planned factory closure, Rüsselsheim, Germany-based Opel will spend the next four years entering new markets and segments by launching 23 new vehicle models and 13 new engines.

The Bochum closure is reminiscent of Ford Motor Co.’s recent decision to restructure its manufacturing capacity in Europe by shutting down its Genk, Belgium, assembly plant by the end of 2014 (, Oct. 24).

Genk has had the lowest capacity utilization rate of Ford’s European assembly plants, Ford Europe chairman Stephen Odell told analysts in late October (, Oct. 26).

Ford will also close two plants in the the United Kingdom next year, ultimately transferring production to Turkey, Germany and Spain.

Meanwhile, falling North American sales of heavy trucks and engines has led manufacturers to cut production and lay off workers (, Nov. 7). But the industry expects a rebound once dealerships work off excess inventory.

Those idling capacity, curbing production and laying off employees include Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc.; Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins Inc.; Lisle, Ill.-based Navistar International Corp.; and Bellevue, Wash.-based Paccar Inc.

Caterpillar, for example, has idled factories this quarter, but chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman said these capacity curtailments are temporary (, Oct. 22).

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