KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Opel will break up its components plant here into three separate units if it cannot find a joint-venture partner.
The General Motors subsidiary wants to spin off the factory to help make the plant competitive and to allow managers to use spare manufacturing capacity for non-GM contracts.
“It is our aim to run Kaisers-lautern with only one external partner,” Opel Managing Director Hans Demant said.
But he said the automaker also is examining splitting up the plant into three separate companies for: stamping; plastic parts production; and making axles.
The plant provides parts to all of Opel’s vehicle assembly plants in Europe. It also supplies GM’s Zafira assembly plant in Thailand.
Opel plans to spin off the plant by next year at the latest. The company has written to 30 suppliers asking them if they are interested in its plans for the plant’s future. Large suppliers from China, South Korea and the US have shown interest and have inspected the plant, sources say.
Opel will invest E100 million to make the facility more attractive to investors.
Magna pulled out
Klaus Franz, head of Opel’s works council, said orders for the Corsa and Vectra successors will keep the factory busy until 2014.
Opel tried to sell the plant three years ago as part of its Project Olympia restructuring program.
But negotiations with Magna International and ThyssenKrupp Automotive failed because the suppliers were concerned that the plant’s employees were paid about 20 percent more than the average for German suppliers.
The situation has changed since then. In March, the unions and management signed an agreement that will cut wages by about 6.5 percent, increase productivity and introduce more flexible working practices.