Amid labor unrest in Korea, and a desire to utilize capacity in Europe, GM is moving production of the Opel Mokka (aka, the Buick Encore, and Canada’s Chevrolet Trax) out of Korea and into a facility in Zaragoza, Spain.
Zaragoza, which also builds the Corsa and Meriva, will assemble the Mokka using CKD kits (shipped from Korea) at first. An $80 million investment will be used to bring full production online, and will further secure the estimated 5,800 jobs at the plant.
The Mokka has been a hot seller for Opel, and a rare bright spot in a European car market that has otherwise been in the dumps. But the compact crossover segment that the Mokka competes in relies on low prices, and GM has increasingly come to view Korea as an expensive country to produce cars in.
Unfortunately, it’s bad news for GM’s Korean assembly arm. While the official party line is that the Mokka’s move will free up capacity at GM Daewoo’s assembly plant in Bupyeong for small SUVs like the Captiva, labor relations in Korea have been deteriorating for some time, and this is a way for GM to avoid having to deal with South Korean unions that are not afraid of striking and rioting to get their point across.