PSA Peugeot Citroen to build next generation Opel Zafira image

Weekly Der Spiegel and daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung both reported earlier Thursday that the French auto maker PSA Peugeot Citroen will be responsible for the new-generation Zafira model, suggesting that cutbacks at Opel’s main European research center are looming.

In addition, the German newspaper reports that GM is very close to announcing the closure of Opel’s Bochum plant – where the actual Zafira model is produced.

This will be the first project that will go to GM’s new partner PSA Peugeot Citroen. It probably won’t be the last. The Zafira job alone will cost several hundred jobs at the tech Center, says Der Spiegel.
White collar jobs at the Rüsselsheim HQ will be done more cheaply in low wage Poland. Another 150 to 200 jobs.

A PSA spokesman declined to comment, but executives for the French automaker have been talking openly about their hopes for the alliance, which GM and the French automaker announced in late February with the goal of saving at least $2 billion annually within five years, split about equally between the partners.

“We are looking into the joint development of several products, including small cars, mid-sized cars, crossovers and multi-purpose vehicles, but no decisions have been made yet,” Opel spokesman Stefan Weinmann said Thursday.

“We want to use common components and share development activities.”

Opel is almost entirely dependent on a European mass car market that is expected to tumble to a fresh decade low this year as austerity programmes lessen demand and send unemployment soaring in countries such as Spain, where one in four is out of work.

Last week, General Motors (GM) said it made $8.3bn (£5.3bn) of profits globally in 2011 but that its European operations lost $700m (£447m) and current restructuring needs to go further.

The group’s chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson said Europe was still “a work in progress”.