Although 2011 brought GM record full-year profits, sales of the Opel/Vauxhall sub-brand in the UK and Germany were devastating, this led to the company’s decision to make deep cuts in both pay and headcount in both operations.
“There is increasing frustration with Opel and a feeling that the cuts two years ago did not go nearly deep enough,” an anonymous official said. “If Opel is going to get fixed, it is going to get fixed now and cuts are going to be deep.”
GM declared that it is not an option to sell Opel-Vauxhall and that it tries to fix it, although it has not ruled out making further cuts. Dan Ammann, GM’s financial chief, said that the restructuring of Opel’s business over the past two years “has not gone far enough and has not reached break even in the environment we’re in today”.
At the moment the company is in talks with unions regarding further cuts, trying to find the best changes they need to make to get the business profitable. With such a bleak future ahead, the impending shutdown of the Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium, is a sign of the grey times in the ailing European auto sector.