While General Motors as a whole had a record year on a global scale, you wouldn’t know it by examining its European operations. While it’s all sunshine and butterflies in the rest of the world, Opel and Vauxhall are in scalding hot water. Just how bad are things? Since 1999, GM Europe has lost $11 billion. Since 2009, $2.4 billion was lost on Opel/Vauxhall. And in the first months of 2011 alone, it lost $580 million.
For what it’s worth, GM CEO Dan Akerson has taken steps to gradually replace Opel’s management board with a new guard. And now, two European GM plants — one in Germany and the other in England — may follow the footsteps of the Antwerp, Belgium assembly plant, and say auf wiedersehen.
The Bochum, Germany assembly plant employs about 3,100 and builds the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. The Ellesmere Port, England employs about 2,100 workers and assembles the Opel/Vauxhall Astra. You need only to look at Michigan cities Flint and Pontiac to get an idea of what will happen to these places if GM decides to shut the plants down.
In a more far-reaching report, IHS Automotive said GM Europe is mulling over the elimination of the 125-year-old Opel brand along with UK-only Vauxhall and replacing the void with more Chevrolets, a brand that seems to be catching in the Old World (now that it finally offers some world-class products). This news comes as the world awaits GM’s full financial report for 2011 due out tomorrow morning.