Opel factory

Europe's ailing economy has caused the supervisory board at General Motors, which includes four senior executives, to vote to end production of the Opel Zafira MPV at the 50-year-old Bochum plant in Germany. The closing of the car factory marks the first closure of a German automobile assembly plant in decades, and it will cost Buchum (a city with nearly 375,000 residents in the western part of the country) about 3,000 jobs.

Some doubted that GM would shift production and tooling of the Zafira out of Bochum before 2017 (the end of the model's life cycle), as it is a move that will prove costly to the automaker, but those hopes were dashed earlier this week. "General Motors said they were willing at most to keep 1,200 people on board, but nothing was set in stone. It never made any concrete binding offer to the workforce, so our entire staff would have had to hope they kept up their end of the bargain," Bochum works council head Rainer Einenkel, who is also on the board of Opel, told Reuters.

The vote of closure is not without plenty of controversy. Labour leaders in Bochum are convinced that their colleagues at other German plants endorsed the move in order to keep their Opel factories open. There may be some truth to that, as the decision means that the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim will build the Zafira after the doors at Bochum are locked shut.