Opel/Vauxhall invests in future

European automotive giant Opel/Vauxhall is to invest €11bn (£10bn) over the next five years in order to keep the business viable and sustainable.

The ‘Plant for the Future’, announced by Nick Reilly, Opel/Vauxhall chief executive officer, will lead to 8,300 job losses, including 369 in Luton and 2,377 in Antwerp - where manufacturing will cease entirely.

A further 150 job losses are expected in the UK from sales and administration roles. Opel/Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, which produces the Astra HB5 and Astra SW, is unaffected by job losses and will add a third shift from mid-2011.

According to a company statement, the five-year plan is expected to reinvigorate 80 per cent of Opel/Vauxhall carlines and place a strong emphasis on alternative propulsions.

The company said it is planning eight major launches in 2010 and four in 2011, notably the extended-range electric vehicle Ampera.

In addition, Opel/Vauxhall will spend €1bn (£0.9bn) on fuel-efficient powertrain technology, which includes introducing pure battery-electric vehicles in smaller-size segments; plus expanding LPG and CNG applications, start/stop technology and right sizing of engines.

The viability plan requires long-term funding of €3.3bn (£2.9bn) to run the business during the transformation. As part of this funding requirement, parent company GM has put €600m (£500m) into the new Opel/Vauxhall business. In addition, GM provided €650m (£570m) in advanced payments in January 2010 to ensure cash positions.

The company will continue to work with European governments to secure €2.7bn (£2.4bn) of funding through loans or loan guarantees.

‘We will build a European company that is profitable, self-sustainable and fit for the long term,’ Reilly said. ‘This keeps a manufacturing base in Europe.’

The business plan foresees that Opel/Vauxhall will break even by 2011 and be profitable by 2012.