"Opel may be the loser of this great game of Monopoly automobile," title Thursday, October 31, the German newspaper Die Welt. While PSA and FCA have confirmed the rumors of merger, the tone is unanimous across the Rhine, this new market consolidation maneuver could increase the pressure on the brand Eclair, bought by the French in 2017.
"Since the integration of Opel-Vauxhall, German employees have already paid a heavy contributionsays Malu Dreyer (SPD), the minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia, Land which housed the Bochum site, closed in 2014. If a merger between PSA and FCA materializes, they should not be the victims, because many jobs have already been deletedIndeed, despite the agreement to maintain jobs until 2023, the austerity plan "led by an iron fist by Carlos Tavares", as the judge Südwestrundfunk chain, has resulted in 6000 deletions of up to now, whether on the basis of voluntary departures, part-time work or outsourcing, such as the 700 engineers from the Rüsselsheim R & D center (ITEZ), transferred to the French group Ségula bought out part of this business, resulting from its first savings efforts, Opel, whose operating profit rose to € 700 million in 2019, compared with € 502 million last year over the same period. red with one year in advance, but bitterness prevails among employees.
Opel sites under threat?
For example, Jörg Köhlinger, head of IG Metall at Opel, criticized the lack of investment in German sites. "In the light of the discussions that have been confirmed between PSA and FCA, the decline in investment for Opel takes a different meaningThe main concern is about the Rüsselsheim factory, headquarter with 14,180 employees, currently 2,600 workers were partially unemployed, "a solution of transition" according to the "Handelsblatt". direction: Zafira production halted, disappointing sales of the Insignia and the arrival of the next generation of Astra in 2021. The Eisenach site also calls for a second model to reach full capacity . "Fiat is also in overcapacitysays Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, automotive expert at the University of Duisburg. If the merger takes place, Opel will not find itself only in competition with the sites in France, but also with the Italians ".
And in case of competition sites, so dear to Tavares, the Germans fear being disadvantaged by their profitability and salary costs. When the French arrived, Opel's German sites were half as competitive as PSA's, particularly because of the high level of manual assembly and vehicle design. Despite significant progress in terms of performance, they still remain below French standards. "In fact, we can not rule out new cuts in staff ", predicts Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, who believes it will be easier to save money on German sites than in Italy, where labor is cheaper.
Opel reclaiming the US market?
For his part, Stefan Bratzel, director of the Bergisch Gladbach University's Motor Management Center, is more optimistic and claims that the PSA chief has no interest in weakening the German brand too much. Tavares also reminded him at the last car show in Frankfurt: "We expect Opel to enrich us with new perspectives on the market and its vision of the automobilehe says. It's not about making copy and paste of what our French brands do. Stefan Bratzel even sees a small snub to Opel's turbulent history. "Via Fiat-Chrysler, this could even be his chance to conquer the US market and by the same to settle some accounts with his former owner, General Motors, believes there.
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