By on November 14, 2012

GM’s German union chief wants the company to move production of the Mokka baby SUV (aka our Buick Encore) from South Korea to Europe. The reason? Because it would help with overcapacity in Europe.

Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug, Opel’s works council chief told Reuters:

“The Mokka would fill an important gap in our Spanish plant, and help to improve utilization there … This volume was never supposed to go to Korea in the first place…Opel has taken out 600,000 cars in capacity and cut 12,000 workers since 2006. Additionally, two engine plants were closed and several lines were taken out in European sites, reducing capacity even more.”

As TTAC has documented in painstaking detail, Opel is screwed in a serious way and that capacity was eliminated because it needed to be.

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14 Comments on “Unions Want GM To Make Mokka In Europe...”

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Someone should tell Herr Wolfgang that waters don’t usually flow upstream in a river.

  • avatar

    Opel, Daewoo, Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Buick. Allll the same. GM is badge-engineering themselves right into another Pontiac/Olds situation.

    • 0 avatar

      Is it really “badge engineering” when the product lines are largely sold in different regions? The comparison with Pontiac/Olds isn’t accurate.

      Vauxhall is sold in the UK, Opel is mainly Europe, Buick is in neither market.

      It would be nice, however, to consolidate them into fewer global brands instead of maintaining the regional branding.

    • 0 avatar

      I would have to respectfully disagree with you. Vauxhall is basically English for Opel, and they dont compete anywhere, so that one is not a problem. Daewoo is gone, actually. GM uses the arm’s engineering expertise but the name is no more, so that one is not a problem. Buick and Chevy are not really that close together and I think that they are sufficiently differentiated. Pontiac and Olds died because other GM divisions cannibalized their sales, and because their products were not really that good or past the point of being saved. I’m not saying that GM doesnt have a problem, Im saying that its a lot different.

      If I was GM, I would shut down Opel/Vauxhall, but keep a European engineering arm around, and agressively market Chevrolet. I hate to say it, but I would probably do the same thing to Holden. What GM needs is a One Ford sort of strategy, or at least something like Volkswagen, where the product line is mostly the same but with some differences.

      • 0 avatar

        We can say “Daewoo is gone” all day long, but the fact is that MOST of Chevrolet’s current lineup is composed of Daewoo products that have been around since 2009 in S Korea.

        Opel and Vauxhall overlap in England.
        Chevy is Daewoo in South Korea and other places.
        Daewoo/Chevy becomes Buick in the US and China.
        I don’t discount Holden because of the unique AUS market.

      • 0 avatar

        Chevy-badged Daewoos are being sold in Europe against Opels and Vauxhalls, so the regional name thing isn’t isolating GM from intramural battles. I’ve heard Opel is being marketed against Holden in Australia now too.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        GM’s plan is to use Opel/Vauxhall/Buick as an upper mid segment brand vehicles with Chevrolet on the low end and Cadillac on the high end. Chevrolet may be encroaching on the low end of Opel, in Europe, but is supposed to be a lower cost, lower content brand.

        What this plan has done for Buick has been great.

  • avatar

    I’m getting the impression that Herr Schaefer-Klug needs a firm thwacking with the clue stick. (Isn’t that why GM put Bob King on Opel’s Supervisory Board last year? To impart some hard-won clue to the IG Metall crew? But I digress.)

    On the other hand, moving a ton of production to Europe would get some of those very expensive GM factories above breakeven. Not as good as dumping the whole mess on Peugeot and walking away, but now that that seems to be off the table, it’s something to consider.

    • 0 avatar

      “On the other hand, moving a ton of production to Europe would get some of those very expensive GM factories above breakeven.”

      Moving production to Europe might offset some of Opel’s losses but the gain would be much lower than importing from South Korea where labor and material costs are much cheaper. In addition, if Opel breaks even GM will lose their bargaining chip in negotiating concessions from the EU labor unions. GM should not give in to union demands and continue with the plan to cut capacity in Europe. Bochum should be shut and all other plants should run no more than two shifts. If additional capacity is needed they can source from South Korea or North America.

      With 45,000 pre-orders it doesn’t seem like the Mokka has lost any appeal due it being imported. Opel estimates demand to outstrip supply for the Mokka through 2013. For once, this is a nice problem for Opel to have.

  • avatar

    If the car is to be sold in Europe, it would make sense to build it there rather than crossing the ocean (add’l lead time and freight cost). I understand the Spanish GM plant is quite efficient and perhaps could produce below Korean cost considering all the factors of the equation…

  • avatar

    Old way to reduce capacity in Europe has led to current situation. Better way to reduce it is to reduce plant and personnel capacity. Then, maybe, if Opel drags itself back to competitive capacity, then, maybe, talk about localizing production back to Germany.

  • avatar

    I can see why the German Union Leader wants production in the EU and not in Korea! I expect too the quality would be better around!

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      No,no,no take jobs away from the South Koreans and give them to us. Do we care about the South Koreans? Not really. Monty Burns would consider this “excellent”.

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