Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the production of the first Opel Astra in Hungary, Opel has celebrated the launch of an expansion of its engine plant in Szentgotthárd (St. Gotthard), Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, joined Opel Management Board Deputy Chairman Thomas Sedran to inaugurate the new plant last week, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony having taken place exactly two years after Opel announced the project in 2010. The kick-off event comes on the heels of news that Opel plans to invest 23 billion euro for 23 new models and 13 engines by 2016, all while rumors circulate over the brand’s potential replacement or even demise.
The 500 million euro facility will employ more than 800 workers to make many of the 13 new gasoline or diesel engines with world-class efficiency and flexibility. The plant is capable of rapidly modifying its production mix to changing market demand, with a capacity of a half million engines a year when operating at full capacity.
The first engine that will be made by the plant is the power-dense yet efficient all-new 1.6 liter turbocharged Ecotec that’s part of GM’s powertrain renewal plan. The new four banger will first find its home in the new Astra sedan while being capable of making a maximum torque of 300 Nm (221 lb.-ft.) at 1,700 RPM and up to 200 hp at 4,700 RPM. In addition, the new 1.6 liter will also decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 13 percent. In fact, all engines built at the new plant will meet strict EURO 6 emissions standards taking effect in the near future.
Opel began manufacturing operations in Hungary in the early 1990s; it was the first international automaker to invest in the country and the first to build passenger cars in the country. Over the last two decades, the St. Gotthard plant has been responsible for producing more than 7 million engines and 5.5 million cylinder heads.
Opel says that the plant will play a key role in Opel’s European manufacturing network; on the local community side of the operation, the new plant will strengthen the operating unit’s business relationship with Hungarian suppliers while enhancing the role of Opel in the local economy and job market.