Opel remakes its factory structure in Europe

Meriva production will switch to Poland from Spain, Agila will be built in Hungary

Ruesselsheim. GM Europe is reorganizing its European manufacturing group.

The successor to the Opel Meriva minivan is expected to be produced in Gliwice, Poland, and not in Zaragoza, Spain, as planned, Automobilwoche has learned.

Assembly of the next generation entry-level Agila will be moved from Gliwice to the Suzuki factory in Esztergom, Hungary, in 2008, according to internal plans.

"The site selection process is nearing its conclusion," a top-level executive said.

The successor to the Astra compact is planned for Gliwice beginning in 2010 or 2011. That will add to current Astra production in Antwerp, Belgium; Ellesmere Port, U.K. and Bochum, Germany.

October 10 deadline

Opel said that it is still too early to talk about future products and production plans.

Employee representatives in Zaragoza have until October 10 to present Opel managers with an offer designed to keep the Meriva's successor in Spain.

The plan will have to include flexibility in working hours and assignments. But inside Opel, Zaragoza's chances are considered slim.

Besides cost factors, strategic considerations played a role in plans to transfer Meriva production to Poland.

The Meriva is currently based on the Corsa's architecture. The successor to the Meriva is expected to grow larger and share a platform with the Astra. That's one reason production in an Astra-platform factory makes sense.

Besides the current Astra, Gliwice builds the Zafira, a small minivan based on the Astra platform.

With the transfer of the Agila's successor to the Suzuki factory in Hungary starting in 2008, capacity will be freed at Gliwice. The Opel entry-level model, priced at 9,990 euros, or about $12,000 at current exchange rates, will again share component architecture with the Suzuki Wagon R+.

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