Opel May shuts Antwerp facility in Belgium

General Motors said that Opel intends to close its manufacturing plant in Antwerp, Belgium, during t

According to GM, the global economic crisis has led to a downturn in automotive industry. The Western European car market in 2010 is expected to be 1.5 million vehicles below 2009 levels and almost 4 million below 2007 levels. It is not expected to return anytime soon to these levels, resulting in overcapacity in general and at Opel. To ensure long-term sustainability for the company, Opel needs to reduce capacity by approximately 20%.

In view of current capacity utilization at all European Opel and Vauxhall plants, planned future product portfolio, timing requirements and financial impact, winding down Antwerp plant would be a logical approach for the company, said GM. If confirmed, production would conclude in next few months.

In addition, it is expected that full restructuring plan, when completed, will affect all Opel and Vauxhall production sites and entities through such measures as capacity reductions, job redundancies and labor cost reductions.

Nick Reilly, CEO of Opel, said: "We fully understand the effect this announcement has on the Antwerp employees and their families and we sympathize with them. Many have been dedicated to the plant over generations and have done an excellent job producing great quality cars. The decision to announce this today, was not taken lightly; instead, it is the unfortunate result of the current business reality. We must make this announcement now so that we can secure a viable future for the entire Opel and Vauxhall operations."