Opel CEO says remaining factories safe
Exec predicts 4% decline in Europe sales
General Motors' money-losing German unit, Opel, has no plans for further factory closures at the moment, interim CEO Thomas Sedran said on Thursday.
Opel confirmed plans in December to shut a factory in Bochum, Germany, by 2016, the first shutdown of an auto plant in the country since World War II. GM closed a factory in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2010 and is selling a transmission plant in Strasbourg, France.
Sedran also said that the weak European car market may shrink by 4 percent this year. Through 11 months, year-on-year European sales had declined 7 percent to 11.7 million vehicles, industry association ACEA said.
Auto executives in Europe have said that they don't expect industry sales to recover before 2014.
GM committed to Opel
Separately, Opel Supervisory Board Chairman Steve Girsky said that the subsidiary is not for sale and that parent GM will continue to invest in the company.
Earlier this week Opel dismissed a French news report that cited government officials as saying PSA/Peugeot-Citroen should buy the automaker. Opel and PSA unveiled an alliance agreement last February that they hope will save them at least $2 billion annually within five years, evenly split between the partners.
Sedran and Girsky, who is also head GM vice chairman, made their comments on the sidelines of an event at the company's plant in Eisenach, Germany. Opel will built the new Adam minicar at the plant in a bid to win back European customers despite the recession.
Opel has invested 190 million euros ($248 million) to prepare its factory to make the Adam, the carmaker said today.
GM's losses in Europe since 1999 have totaled $17.3 billion. GM expects its European operations, which include the Opel and UK-based Vauxhall brands, to lose between $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion this year.
The Detroit-based carmaker has a target of bringing the operations to breakeven by 2015.
Sales by Opel and Vauxhall have fallen faster than European industrywide deliveries have contracted, cutting the divisions' combined market share to 6.7 percent in the first 11 months of 2012 from 8.4 percent for all of 2007, according to ACEA data.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this reportContact Automotive News