Opel approves German plant closure: report

As Opel continues to face losses, the European arm of General Motors has approved the closure of a German plant, at the cost of more than 3000 workers.
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Reuters reports Opel's decision to cease production at its 50-year-old Bochum assembly plant by the end of 2014 was approved by its supervisory board as part of the company’s comprehensive 10-year turnaround plan, dubbed 'DRIVE!2022'.

Opel Bochum Plant - 1

The plan aims to return Opel – part of GM since 1929 – to profitability by 2015, as well as introduce 23 new models and 13 new powertrains by the end of 2016.

According to the report, Opel said it would fulfil its responsibilities and support the 'Bochum Prospects 2022' development initiative in searching for “future solutions for the people in Bochum and the region".

The closure of Bochum will see production of the of Opel Zafira MPV – arriving in Australia later this year – shifted to another location for the remaining two years of its lifecycle, but while no decision has been announced, the company’s historic home plant in Ruesselsheim is tipped to be the likely solution.

Opel Zafira Tourer

Bochum works council head Rainer Einenkel, who also sits on the board of Opel, told Reuters, "If a decision is taken tomorrow to shift production of the Zafira to another German factory for 2015 and 2016, then I hope the workforce would refuse out of solidarity to Bochum".

Opel revealed its plan to close the Bochum plant – currently employing 3300 workers – last month, while earlier this month Opel’s ‘DRIVE!2022’ strategy was boosted by the announcement from parent company General Motors of a four billion euro ($4.95 billion) investment into its European division over the next four years.

In 2012, GM recorded an operating loss of $1.7 billion in Europe, following a $660 million loss the year before.

Opel is also returning to the Shanghai auto show for the first time in five years, displaying the Opel Insignia ST, Astra GTC, Zafira Tourer and the brand's best-selling Chinese model, the Opel Antara mid-range SUV, at this weekend's event.