RUESSELSHEIM -- Opel's top labor boss said parent PSA Group's reported plans to sell parts of Opel's r&d arm would be 'a suicide mission.'
On Tuesday, French newspaper Le Monde cited an internal document from mid-May that Opel and PSA Group had approached engineering contractors about a sale that would include four separate parts valued at 500 million euros in total and employing 3,980 people, or roughly half of its development staff.
Former Opel parent General Motors "massively invested in this business. Now it is to be offered up for sale. That is a suicide mission," works council chief Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug told journalists on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the union said that selling off Opel's development "would put Opel's future at risk.”
"The technological heart of the Opel brand beats in engineering. Production, service and administrative functions can give the Opel brand no identity without the engineering center," the union added.
Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller said in a statement on Wednesday that "engineering is and will stay at the core of Opel. ... However, we know that the workload from GM will decrease drastically over the coming years. Therefore, we are looking into different options on how we can achieve a sustainable and successful setup in the engineering center."
As part of Opel's restructuring plan announced last November, Lohscheller said Opel engineering would be “an integral part" of PSA Group's global r&d network.
All new Opel vehicles would be engineered in Ruesselsheim to ensure the quality of key competitive differentiators such as vehicle handling and chassis tuning. The center would also be responsible for homologating PSA Group vehicles and powertrains for the U.S. as well as lead development of fuel cells and certain autonomous driving and driver assistance systems.
Separately, Schaefer-Klug said Thursday he expected to sign a labor agreement this week that offers wage concessions in exchange for investments.