Franz: gm makes opel export more difficult

The opel works council has accused the group’s parent company general motors (gm) of using "internal trade restrictions" to hinder car exports to countries outside europe. Gm is demanding profits after just one year, outgoing works council head klaus franz told news agency dpa. But that is absolutely illusory. This would practically block opel’s access to new markets outside europe.

Franz thus contradicts opel ceo karl-friedrich stracke, who had praised increased exports to eastern europe, australia, china, south america and the middle east as a way out of the loss-making automaker’s plight. Franz, too, advocates more exports, but sees them as unnecessarily difficult under current conditions. "Gm officially agreed to the proposed export, but then created ‘killer criteria’ that made exports all but impossible."The background to this is the territorial protection for other gm brands such as chevrolet or holden, which conversely applies to opel.

Gm manager stephen girsky had advised opel to take volkswagen as a role model. Franz is not opposed to this: "we want fair competition within the group, as is the case at volkswagen."This year, opel has just 13 new models.000 cars sold outside of its specified market. "Only 3000 of them in china and (vw subsidiary) skoda sells 200 there.000 pieces," says franz. Opel still has three-quarters of the world market closed to it due to corporate decisions. Of the five largest car markets in the world, opel is allowed to operate only in western europe. Franz criticized the fact that, contrary to what had been agreed with the employees in the restructuring plan, very little had been done in terms of exports over the past year and a half.

Franz opposed plans to produce opel cars outside europe. At the same time he claimed the production of chevrolets for the european market in the opel. In this way, the existing capacity in the european markets can be well utilized. In principle, there is too much friction in the development of new models at gm, said the head of the works council. For example, the division of development sovereignty for certain platforms in germany, korea and the usa has not been preserved, because the models for the respective markets had to be rebuilt at great expense. "That costs hundreds of millions of euros, which you can never recoup."The best example is the new corsa, which had to be withdrawn from the european market because it was originally too heavy.

In his estimation, about a quarter of gm’s engineers are not being deployed in a value-added manner, franz said. There is also room for the savings demanded by gm in the procurement of materials. The plants, on the other hand, are highly effective, even compared to competitors. Opel fails to return to the black after extensive restructuring. In the third quarter, the european subsidiary was the only one in the gm group to report a loss. Gm strategy chief stephen girsky, who will chair opel’s supervisory board, has already announced new rounds of cost-cutting measures. Opel must reduce costs, better exploit economies of scale and improve profit margins.

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