By on August 12, 2011

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.



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19 Comments on “Akerson: Chevys For Rüsselsheim, Bad News For Detroit...”

  • avatar

    Maybe I missed it and I am not aiming to be obtuse, but how is making Chevy’s in Europe a bad thing. It uses spare capacity and if Chevy want a bigger slice of the European market then having local manufacturer helps. Toyota, Honda etc have done the same thing in both Europe and the USA when they were expanding, hence their factories in both continents. No Chevy’s from USA plants (other than Corvette) are sold in Europe are they? If not then no volume impact on those factories (and hence no job issues).

    • 0 avatar


      Cease driving immediately, and see your eye doctor. Your vision is going out.

      It says here:

      “The good news is that “GM is looking into producing Chevrolets in Europe.”

      • 0 avatar

        I was confused because the title says “Chevys for Russelsheim, Bad news for Detroit”. Re-reading the article does the bad news relate to Akerson thinking the economy may worsen? So rather than being bad in a GM specific (Detroit) way it is bad for the US in general.

  • avatar

    whos the girl to the left? Is she an opel rep?

  • avatar

    it’s interesting to speculate which Chevys will be made in Europe. I wonder if the Malibu, which is supposed to go global, will be a natural choice since it shares it’s platform with the Insignia.

  • avatar

    Doubt it as the Malibu is the Chevrolet version of the Camry of which Toyota sells zero in Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      The Malibu is planned to be sold in Europe along side the Cruze and assorted legacy Daewoo models. This allows the Insignia to move upmarket which is reassuring from a Buick perspective.

  • avatar

    @Bertel: Chevys made in Europe? Not really news, in the historical view.

    Are you suggesting these will be built in Western Europe where the costs are so high? What about the plants in Poland, Hungarn & Turkey? I would think those would be the logical place to build close to Russland and Western Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      no it appears they will indeed be built in locally in germany. If the plant isnt running at capacity, why not make it so? I think that’s what he’s trying to say. Plant utilization 110% or bust.

      • 0 avatar

        @tikki50: I didn’t see that anywhere, but I really didn’t read the FTD article carefully. The union leader says ‘here’, but I didn’t necessarily take it to mean Russelsheim.

        It would seem to me that Poland or Hungary would be more fitting with GM’s new focus on cutting costs. But, if you’re paying the workforce to work, I guess it may as well be in Germany…

  • avatar

    The good news is that “GM is looking into producing Chevrolets in Europe.”

    That sounds like bad news for Opel management. Whatever autonomy they may have had would appear to be in the crosshairs of the leadership in Detroit.

    • 0 avatar

      This sounds like the beginning of the end of Opel’s engineering staff perhaps. Chevys in Europe, why bother with Opel engineering their own platforms?

      • 0 avatar

        @MikeAR: I doubt that this is anywhere near the end of Opel engineering. Opel does the majority of the FWD programs.

      • 0 avatar

        I doubt that this is anywhere near the end of Opel engineering. Opel does the majority of the FWD programs.

        Traditionally, GM Europe had been fair autonomous. It was largely a corporate backwater that didn’t get that much attention from the mothership.

        Now, GM has been moving more work to Daewoo, and if you believe their recent presentation that was linked elsewhere here, then GM’s goal now appears to be to turn GM into an efficient international company with global brands.

        That sounds good, but that also means some sort of centralized management that oversees all markets. Combine that with a strategy to cut costs by moving more operations to emerging markets, and that spells problems for Opel.

        The trend in Europe has been to drop trade barriers that had been traditionally used to protect their domestic car markets, so in the future, there should be less need for an auto producer to be housed there if the consumer will accept the vehicles. If GM can get Europeans to embrace Chevrolets, that can’t be good for Opel.

  • avatar

    Still a little lost as to how the GM pecking order in Europe supposed to work. You can still make some sense of Cadillac-Buick-Chevy here, and even more if it’s done right.

    Chevrolet, I guess is supposed to compete in the cut-price class in Europe that used to be the haven of Hyundai and Kia, plus some Malaysian and Eastern European makes.

    But is there really that much of a gap between Opel/Vauxhall and Chevrolet? I guess they’re trying to follow the VW/Skoda/SEAT model, but how well is that working?

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