Opel to shift UK Vectra production to Ruesselsheim

Ruesselsheim. Opel boss Carl-Peter Forster, who has complained about a capacity shortage for the mid-sized Vectra model, hopes to catch up with a backlog of 30,000 orders by the end of July.

Opel expects to sell 200,000 units by the end of this year in all of Europe. The medium-term plan is to sell 320,000 Vectras annually.

By mid-2004 production of the sporty GTS fastback version will be transferred from Ellesmere Port, England, to Ruesselsheim, Germany. The original plan was to manufacture the GTS in Ruesselsheim starting in autumn 2003.

The Ruesselsheim plant will then be the only Opel plant in Europe to build all four versions of the Vectra: sedan, Caravan, GTS and Signum.

Ellesmere Port will focus on production of the future Astra.

Opel also aims for a faster production start-up of the Caravan station wagon, which will be available starting in October 2003. Insiders say Forster plans to increase the capacity from 15 to 20 Caravans per hour.

With the other models Opel will be more flexible in order to cope with fluctuating demand.

"We are working very hard on balancing the capacities between our plants," Forster said. The new Astra will therefore be built in both Ellesmere Port and Antwerp in Belgium, the Caravan in Ellesmere Port and Bochum. Production of the small Corsa will remain in Eisenach and in Zaragoza, Spain.

Forster denied rumors that the new Meriva small van might be built in Eisenach: "That is not planned. We try to keep the manufacturing of one model flexible between no more than two plants in order to avoid doubling the cost for machinery."

Starting early next year the current Astra will also be built at Opel's plant in Gliwice, Poland. where the Agila is produced. Some 40,000 units per year will be built for the central and eastern European markets.

Meanwhile, Opel dismissed doubts that the leves of quality might differ from plant to plant. Reinald Hoben, Opel's director of quality, said: "Levels of quality and the quality process are the same in all our plants."

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