RUESSELSHEIM, Germany -- The top union official at General Motors' Opel/Vauxhall division, Klaus Franz, considers the company's restructuring accomplished and sees "profitable growth" for the unit.
Franz, who is also deputy chairman of Opel's supervisory board, said the unit will not cut more jobs after reducing headcount by 8,000 in the past 12 months.
"We now have 40,000 employees in all of Europe. We will hold this figure steady for the long term," Franz said in an interview with Automotive News Europe. Opel will also replace age-related departures and hire more engineers. There will be "160 new hires this year alone after 250 in 2010," Franz said.
Opel is shifting from "defense to offensive" after cutting production capacity by 20 percent and will now concentrate on profitable growth. "We will break even this year. Starting in 2012, our strategic plan envisions sustained profitability again," Franz said.
Opel will introduce an extra shift at its main factory in Ruesselsheim, Germany. Said Franz: "In September, the five-door Astra went into production for the first time in Ruesselsheim. During the first quarter of 2012, we will introduce a third shift."
This year, Opel will produce more than 20,000 Astra cars in Ruesselsheim, Franz said. "By 2012, we will produce up to 50 percent of the five-door Astra volume in Ruesselsheim, that is 80,000 to 90,000 units." The factory has an annual capacity of 272,000 units of the Insignia and Astra models in three shifts.
Opel builds the other half of the Astra five-door volume in Gliwice, Poland, and Ellesmere Port, England, which also build the Astra three-door, GT and notchback models. The Astra Sports Tourer is manufactured solely in Ellesmere Port.