Good news for Opel workers: They could all get Chevys, and GM CEO Dan Akerson won’t sell them down the river, to China, to Korea, or god forbid to Wolfsburg. “We would never give Opel away. Opel contributes to our global size and is not for sale, end of discussion,” Akerson told Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland. An unambiguous statement. Opel workers would have loved to hear it a bit earlier. But better late than Hyundai.
Akerson had more news. Some good. Some, well, you decide …
The good news is that “GM is looking into producing Chevrolets in Europe.” The few Chevrolets that currently change hands in the EU – in June, the number was 17,114, says ACEA – are made in Russia or South Korea. These numbers are scheduled to grow a lot, and GM doesn’t want to ship cars from Korea to Europe if it has plants there that could use some work.
The bad news is that Akerson thinks the U.S. economy could nosedive. Nosedive even more? “There is the danger of a new recession, and I see this with concern,” Akerson told the paper. Result? Americans will buy fewer cars than hoped and projected. GM thought the year would end at 13 to 13.5 million cars sold in the U.S. Very few still believe this, and Akerson is beginning to have doubts himself: “Currently, we maintain the forecast, but we think it will be the lower range of our prognosis.”
The Opel unions are unfazed by the danger of their mothership hitting rough seas. They are happy about Chevbrolet coming to Europe: “We have promoted this for quite a while,” said über-shop-steward Klaus Franz to Automobilwoche [sub]. “This would fill the capacities of some sites here.” There is no badge-nationalism in the union camp. Chevrolet, Opel, whatever fills the line.
Background: GM wants a bigger European footprint for Chevrolet in Europe. Instead of in Korea, the cars shall be made in Europe. However, as part of the restructuring plan, there is a contract that precludes new European plants before 2014. That’s why the cars will have to be made at Opel or Vauxhall if the great Chevroletization of Europe is to become reality.