General Motors will speed up a planned production increase for the Opel Meriva at its Zaragoza, Spain, plant because of heavy demand for diesel-powered models.
"In mid-June, daily Meriva production at Zaragoza plant will go from 700 units to 950," said Juan José Sanz, managing director of Opel Spain.
The increase was originally planned for August.
Most of the additional production will be for cars fitted with the Meriva's two diesel engines - a 75hp unit and a 100hp common-rail diesel.
Total production of Corsa and Meriva models at Zaragoza this year is scheduled to reach 459,203 units, about 80,000 more than the plant's Corsa output last year. The expected total for 2003 includes 293,924 Corsas and 165,279 Merivas.
"This year our plant will represent 25 percent of total volume production of GM in Europe," said Sanz.
Meriva production started on January 7.
"We started slowly but we accelerated in week six," said Sanz.
GM invested E480 million in industrial tooling at Zaragoza for the Meriva. It plans to move part of production for the slow-selling Corsa from Spain to its plant in Eisenach, Germany, later this year.
Eisenach currently builds Astras, but production of the next generation of that model will be moved to Gliwice, Poland.
Depending on the amount of Corsa production that moves to Eisenach, Meriva output could reach a maximum of 200,000 units, Sanz said.