Opel reorganization plan: compromise instead of a clear cut

Opel reorganization plan: compromise instead of a clear cut

Delicate passages such as plant closures or job cuts no longer appear in the concept with which opel wants to get back on the road to success after billions in losses in recent years. It remained open when the profit zone would be reached. In order to reduce expensive overcapacities, models such as the small SUV mokka, the antara or the agila will roll off the production line in europe instead of in korea in the past. Observers expect that models of the french partner peugeot-citroen could also be built at opel. The company rejects this so far as speculation.

In his plan, stracke is selling a lot of old wine in new bottles: he announced an investment offensive that his predecessor nick reilly had already presented. The "new export strategy" is also described by observers as unambitious and is essentially already known.

At least, unlike in march, when stracke’s first management plan was rejected by the supervisory board, the supervisory board now approved the strategy. Stracke has thus broken through the long entrenched fronts between GM management in detroit and the unions and store stewards in europe. "The plan adopted today paves the way for a strong future for opel," said GM vice chairman and opel supervisory board chairman stephen girsky. General motors is behind opel.

Vice chairman of the supervisory board and head of the general works council wolfgang schafer-klug also praised the "2012 to 2016 business plan" as a good basis for the future of adam opel AG: "GM’s support shows how important european engineering and the european sites of opel/vauxhall are for the group."Opel must now focus on its strengths in order to grow and secure jobs in the long term, even in a difficult market environment.

Among other things, the plan includes previously announced investments in the opel/vauxhall product range. In the next four years, 23 new models, 13 new engines and transmissions, and additional vehicles with environmentally friendly drive technology, such as the opel ampera, are to be launched on the market. The goal: opel should also be represented again in segments (SUV, convertible) that the manufacturer recently surrendered to the competition without a fight.

It was to be expected that stracke would forego a reduction in overcapacities in the plan. For in germany, the company, the works council and IG metall are currently negotiating. Among other things, this involves the waiver of redundancies until the end of 2016. The plant in bochum is to be closed in 2017 at the earliest, two years later than previously planned. The talks are to be concluded in october, until then the workforce will forego the most recent wage increase.

The plant in ellesmere port in the uk, which had long been considered a candidate for closure, has also long since been saved: the workforce was prepared to make cuts, thus securing the production of the next generation of astra cars.

The opel manager wants to get a grip on the high costs primarily through cooperation with the french car group PSA peugeot citroen. Savings to be made in purchasing, logistics and development in particular. "The PSA alliance will only help in the medium term, in three to five years, when models are jointly developed and built," said auto expert stefan bratzel. Until then, the companies had been able to make savings through joint purchasing. But that is not the worst case scenario.

Opel is struggling with sales declines in the weak european auto market. In the first five months of the year, the carmaker and its british sister vauxhall sold almost 16 percent fewer cars in the european union than a year earlier, with the overall market shrinking by 7.7 percent.

According to thursday’s statements, opel management is also relying more heavily on exports to boost sales. So far, opel is largely limited to the european market. In 2011 opel/vauxhall sold 1.2 million cars, only 19,000 went to countries outside europe such as south africa, china or israel. As the company had already announced in mid-june, the cars with the lightning bolt will also be sold in australia from the end of 2012. Stracke plans to attack russia (opel sales 2011: 67,500) and turkey (54,500), while sales in china are to be quadrupled "in the next few years" – albeit at a low level: from 5,000 to 20,000.

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