• Oct 6th 2010 at 8:28AM
  • 8
General Motors is shutting the doors on its Antwerp, Belgium manufacturing facility after failing to find a buyer for the plant. According to Automotive News, companies from both the United States and China expressed interest in the factory, but GM says that neither could come up with a sustainable business strategy that would keep the doors open and workers employed. The plant currently provides work for around 1,300 people who were warned earlier this year that the facility could be closed by the end of 2010. Now that possibility has become a reality.

The Antwerp plant builds the current Opel Astra, though with the company losing market share hand over fist, GM has been looking to shutter the facility for some time. Interestingly enough, AN says that this is the first closing of a European automotive manufacturing facility since 2006. GM says that while it continues to wind down operations at the plant throughout the remainder of this year, it will still be open to hearing proposals from companies looking to invest in the site.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req. | Image: Filip Claus/AFP/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      How is Opel's market share in Europe? Is Chevrolet also cannibalizing Opel sales at the lower end?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Opel's market share is practically the same, it's always one of the Top5 best selling brands in Europe (counting with UK's Vauxhall). The problem here is efficiency and production costs. Some time ago, Opel closed down the Portuguese factory, shifting the production of the model "Combo" to Spain (a place where the Corsa is built). Nothing new there, nowadays it's common, and "Opel's near-sale" in 2008 was a warning that the GM Europe needs to be even more efficient money wise.

        As for Chevy, the models are not in the same league, they are "fighting" with Hyundai, Kia, and other cheaper alternatives to the European "veterans". Also, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda have been loosing market through the last decade in Europe, since the models are more unattractive and there's not much interest in them.

        Also, Opel is more than ever raising the bar to fight VW. The Astra and Insignia have much more quality/style, and are good cruisers (with top comfort), which is a good thing for the common buyer (including VW clients). And were also weak points of previous models. Not only that, but Opel is expanding as a brand (replacing others that used their models under rebadge) to other countries where the Golf and other VW models are selling good, which means they are also trying to improve Opel's image internationally.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I read somewhere that the Opel (former Wartburg) factory in Eisenach is one of the most inefficient factories Opel (even Europe) has. That factory is the one that should be closed, not the one in Antwerp. But he, politics....
        • 4 Years Ago
        You misread something. The Eisenach plant is one of the most modern and efficient plants of Europe, mainly because it's grade of automatisation is >80 %.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are half right. The Eisenach is very efficient however. But the Belgium plant is right up there above some of the other German plants.

        GM chose to close the Belgium plant largely because of politics. It would have had a much bigger problem if it would close one of the factories in Germany rather than in the small Belgium.
        The German government put a lot of pressure and money on the table. Belgium is in constant political chaos and could not react powerful enough. Only the prime minister of the Flemish regional government had tried to steerd the situation Belgiums way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Having tested the Astra when new,I am not surprised.Sound control was nil.
        • 4 Years Ago
        again: that is down to engineering in Russelheim Germany not the factory
      • 4 Years Ago
      I believe GM has four plants in Germany running yet they close Antwerp. I bet the wage bill in Germany for GM is much higher as well.

      Who's next for the GM plant chop in Europe?, It's got to be one or both of the UK plants.

      Germany gets everything when it comes to car manufacturing and engineering.