GM Europe Springs A Huge Leak: Explosive Production Plans To Trigger Wrath Of The French

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
gm europe springs a huge leak explosive production plans to trigger wrath of the

While in Detroit the leaking remains limited to gossip and innuendo, Opel in Germany sprung a Deepwater Horizon–sized leak that could pollute the political landscape for years. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says it is in possession of something that is regarded as part of the crown jewels of a car company: The long-term production plan through the next decade. It’s bad enough that a paper publishes closely guarded secrets – their publication could blow-up the plan.

The usually restrained Frankfurt paper calls the content of the document “explosive,” and says it could trigger political consequences. Which makes the leaking doubly interesting.

Says the FAZ:

“The document marked CONFIDENTIAL, dated late June 2012, lists all model starts and production sites within the Europe business of GM for the Opel and Chevrolet brands. The list goes until the year 2020.”

The explosive part involves GM’s new 7 percent partner Peugeot-Citroen. Production of high-profile PSA models are supposed to be moved to Opel Rüsselsheim, among them the legendary Citroen DS5 (in French revered as the „déesse“, the goddess) , followed by the midsized Peugeot 508. As a partial make-good, PSA would get the production of the Zafira.

Putting the Peugeot and the Citroen on an Insignia platform, and building all of them in Rüsselsheim, would bring the desired scale effects – for Rüsselsheim. Opel’s ancestral home could work three shifts and produce up to 320,000 units per year. Currently, Opel workers in Rüsselsheim work four days a week and take three days off. According to published plans, the compact Astra will leave Rüsselsheim, leaving only the Insignia with only 140,000 units behind – unless it becomes French company.

In France, the move will cost more jobs if it is supposed to save money. PSA would have 140,000 DS5 and 508 made in Germany, and would receive some 100,000 Zafira. This could close the PSA plant in Rennes where the 508 amounts to two-thirds of the total production.

The Frankfurt paper expects this will create political turmoil in France. Smaller job cuts already caused political turbulences with the new socialist government. On a personal level, there is the matter of the new French president Francois Hollande famously being driven in a DS5 Hybrid.

The publication of the paper, says the FAZ, hits “raw nerves” at PSA and GM, where people are “worried that the premature disclosure of the plans could torpedo plans that are the core of the cost reduction plans.” This is why the conservative paper, which traditionally keeps reliable lines of communications to the union brass in Frankfurt, most likely has been brought in possession of the document. By unleashing the wrath of the French government, the plans will be brought down.

Some other tidbits the FAZ pulled from the production plan:

  • Expansion of the production capacity in St. Petersburg, Russia, possibly a new plant by 2018.
  • Possibly a shift of the Opel Mokka crossover from Korea to Germany. If to Bochum, the plant could stay open.
  • A new segment called “Country Tourer,” based on the Insignia (Opel Shooting Brake?) It would be built in Bochum.
  • Opel’s Eisenach plant endangered: The confidential document lists no new model starts for Eisenach, where the city car Adam is made.

An Opel spokesman called the content of the document “a grab-bag of speculations and lies.” The regional boss of the metal workers union I.G. Metall had confirmed to the FAZ: “This scenario exists, it is being negotiated with the French.”

It is not in the interest of the unions or the left-wing French government that this scenario becomes reality.

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Thburkart Thburkart on Aug 13, 2012

    eek. deep-seeded malcontent. these things get published from time to time. probably only hundreds of millions of dollars in damage

  • Felix Felix on Aug 14, 2012

    If the leaked document is real, then it's interesting to consider where PSA sits on this. Either they know nothing about it because their overlords at GM kept them out of the loop (ha!); or they have been in on this plan all along (which means that even the French want to get out of France!). For some strange reason I don't find this surprising.

  • Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
  • Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
  • Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
  • Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
  • VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?
Next