UAW boss Bob King told Opel’s Bochum workers to vote again, and to this time accept a deal that had been worked out between the German metal worker union IG Metall and GM. (Read More…)
At around 2:00 PM on the afternoon of October 6, 1973, more than 200 Soviet built Egyptian aircraft began to assault Israeli air bases and missile emplacements north of the Suez canal and the established line of defense, known as the Bar Lev Line. During the night that followed, Egyptian combat engineers crossed the canal in small boats and used gasoline powered pumps to throw streams of high pressure water against the massive sand wall the Israeli forces had erected at the water’s edge following their 1967 conquest of the Sinai. The water eroded the wall with amazing efficiency and by the next day more than 50,000 Egyptian troops and 400 tanks had made their way across the Suez, through the remains of the Bar Lev line and out onto the Sinai desert where they forced the Israeli military back in disarray. The offensive, known as Operation Badr was the opening of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and it makes interesting reading. The conflict had lasting effects in region and some say that it helped to set the stage for the Camp David Accords and eventually led to the peace treaty that President Carter helped negotiate between Egypt and Israel. The war also had effects closer to home and, thanks in part to the Arab Oil Embargo that was a direct result of America’s support of Israel during the conflict, it led to a new, fuel efficient car appearing in my family’s driveway.
Opel’s Supervisory Board, with half of its members delegates of the labor union, decided today the first closure of a German car factory in decades. According to Reuters, “Opel will end producing Zafira MPVs at its 50-year old Bochum plant by the end of next year, a move that has triggered a rare and public split within union ranks following months of tough negotiations.”
The closure will lead to the loss of 3,000 jobs in Bochum, as part of Opel’s attempt to put an end to 15 straight years of losses in Europe. It will be a while. (Read More…)
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel made appreciative noises over the 4 billion EUR GM wants to invest into Opel through 2016, but gave no indication that she is willing to chip in. (Read More…)
GM CEO Dan Akerson and his dispatched-to-Europe fixer Steve Girsky emphatically denied that its loss-making Opel arm is up for sale or might be merged into a joint venture with equally loss-making Peugeot. (Read More…)
Buick’s been on a roll this year, their sales are up and their owner demographics are younger than they have been in recent memory. The cynic in my says that’s because half their clientele died of old age, but it has more to do with their product portfolio. Say what? Yep, it’s true, the brand I wrote off for dead last decade is targeting younger buyers with designs imported from Europe and finding sales success. The Verano turbo shattered my preconceptions, but can Buick do it again? A brown Encore arrived one rainy morning to see if it was possible. (Read More…)
If you want to know in how big a trouble GM is in Europe, look at Ford. Ford’s European unit sales are similar to those of Opel. They also are likewise beleaguered. Ford’s EU sales were down 21 percent in February, Opel was down 15.8 percent. The big difference: While GM does not seem to be able to shed capacity anytime soon, Ford had taken swift action. (Read More…)
GM has a huge problem in Bochum – or an unexpected opportunity. Workers at Opel’s Bochum plant yesterday refused a restructuring plan that would guarantee auto production in Bochum through 2016, and that would keep the plant making components after that. GM answered on the same day: ”Production of the Zafira Tourer and the waiver of enforced redundancy will end after 2014.” This would open the door to closing the doors in Bochum.
It also could become extremely costly for GM. (Read More…)
I have been trying to make heads or tails out of yesterday’s contradicting news about the big deal between Opel and the unions, and so does German media. So much is clear: The truth and GM’s press release about a “successful conclusion” of the negotiations with the Opel works council are miles apart. There is no deal. Unions and Management are still in negotiations, the negotiations will continue this coming week. Then, the workers have to vote. It does not look good: Bochum’s works council is dead set against the deal. It gets worse. (Read More…)
Messy, messy, messy: Can’t even close a proper deal with the unions. GM and the unions have an agreement. It is basically as reported this morning. The deal has the signatures of management and unions. One signature is missing, reports Die Welt: That of Bochum works council chief Rainer Einenkel. (Read More…)
If you think that GM will get a handle on its abundant capacity problems in Europe – abandon all hope. Or rather: Postpone hope for until after 2016, or maybe later. Also, write off any expectations that Steve Girksy would successfully play hardball with German Metalworker Unions. Deadball is more likely. With the decision to move the production of Opel’s Astra volume model from Rüsselsheim to Ellesmere Port, and to shift production from Bochum to Rüsselsheim, the fate of the Bochum plant appeared to be sealed.
German unions declared war. Minutes ago, Opel works council chief Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug announced “an armistice” (Das Handelsblatt) and told German media that Opel will continue making cars in Bochum through 2016. Nobody can be fired, no plants can be closed at Opel until January 1, 2017. Even then, Bochum will remain open. (Read More…)
By Thursday, GM wants to have a definite deal with the Opel unions at least that’s the deadline Steve Girsky has set. The parties are further apart than Dems and Reps over the sequester. Steve Girsky wanted the unions to agree that Opel’s toolmaking, prototype building and central production planning will be outsourced, or moved to GM’s plant in Gliwice, Poland, Der Spiegel says. The unions are rightly horrified. (Read More…)
The popular wisdom among folks in the auto-biz of my generation (1970s) is that Buick only exists because of China. Why didn’t GM kill Buick in America and keep it in China? The answer is obvious: you can’t sell your brand on its “Americanness” if it isn’t also sold in America to Americans. Buick then is a brand hunting for a mission. It’s also a brand hunting for fresh customers that don’t remember the Century and Skylark, two abominations firmly burnt into my mind. In attempt to solve these problems Buick has ditched their badge-engineering mantra and is rolling out new products targeted at folks from the 80s and 90s. Forced induction and a manual transmission aren’t new to Buick, but the possibility of a desirable small sedan from the triple-shield is earth shattering. Have they managed it? GM tossed us a set of keys to find out.
For decades, big corporate profits were blasted as a sign of greed, especially by unions. GM changed all that. When a sheep dipped GM, free of legacy finance costs, and not paying taxes due to losses a normal company would not have been able to carry over after a bankruptcy, declared a record $7.6 billion profit in 2011, chests of GM boosters swelled with pride, as if the profits had been theirs. A year later, there is $2.7 billion less to be proud of. GM’s European millstone, Opel, continues to drag the company down. Opel’s operative losses more than doubled to $1.8 billion for all of 2012. (Read More…)