General Motors has turned its focus on its European division as a little after the announcement on its decision to wind down its Saab unit, the U.S. carmaker revealed that it intends to close Opel's manufacturing plant in Antwerp, Belgium, which employs around 2,600 workers. GM said that if confirmed, production would conclude at the plant in the next few months.
"We fully understand the effect this announcement has on the Antwerp employees and their families and we sympathise with them," said Opel CEO Nick Reilly adding that, "we must make this announcement now so that we can secure a viable future for the entire Opel and Vauxhall operations."
The automaker added that global economic crisis has severely affected the Western European car market and that in 2010, it's expected to be 1.5 million vehicles below 2009 levels and almost 4 million below its peak in 2007.
"It is not expected to return anytime soon – if ever – to these peak levels, resulting in significant overcapacity in general and at Opel in particular. To ensure long-term sustainability for the company, Opel needs to reduce capacity by approximately 20 percent," GM said in a prepared statement.
And while GM does not have plans to shut down any other plants or factories in Europe at the moment, the company warned that there will be capacity reductions, job redundancies and/or labor cost reductions.
According to media reports from the Old Continent, GM could slash up to 8,300 of Opel / Vauxhall's 50,000 jobs.