Dec.10 - General Motors' German arm, Opel, is closing one of its four plants, citing a shrinking in demand on the European car market as the cause. Joanne Nicholson reports
Europe's car industry has been dealt another blow. General Motors' German carmaker unit, Opel, is stopping production at its plant in the city of Bochum, putting 3,000 jobs at risk. Opel's deputy chief executive, Thomas Sedran: (SOUNDBITE) (German) OPEL DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THOMAS SEDRAN, SAYING: "The reasons for this decision, this difficult decision, is the dramatic reduction in demand on the European car market as well as the enormous over capacity at Opel and the entire industry." Western Europe's auto market has declined to levels of almost twenty years ago largely thanks to the euro zone debt crisis. Several makers have been forced to cut jobs, including France's Peugeot-Citroen which has plans to axe 8,000 posts and Fiat where 1,500 jobs may go in Poland . Falling euro zone sales are largely to blame There've been significant declines in Italy. And in Spain, after the government raised VAT as part of its austerity drive. Germany's market did fare better but it also dipped. Opel, which employs 20,000 people in Germany, says its home market is still its most important and it hopes to redeploy some of its Bochum staff. It will retain three plants and 300 dealerships. (SOUNDBITE) (German) FATIH SARISO, OPEL APPRENTICE, SAYING: "If they tell us that we produce high quality here in Bochum and that anything can be built here then in their position I would look for some investments and make sure new models are being built. But I guess this all has to do with the United States and GM and they have the power. It's just stupid. I can't believe Opel doesn't have a say in this." But the news of the Bochum closure comes hot on the heels of Germany's central bank slashing its forecasts for economic growth next year. And that will add to Angela Merkel's woes as she gears up for next year's election. The Bochum plant will carry on production of the Zafira until 2016.