March 25, 2012 / 3:12 PM / in 7 years

GM to expand capacity in low-cost countries: magazine

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - General Motors (GM.N) may expand production capacity in low-cost countries while closing its Bochum plant in Germany and Ellesmere Port site in Britain, a German magazine said, citing an internal strategy document.

If vehicle sales rise, GM would build the additional cars in countries such as Poland, Russia, China, India, Mexico and Brazil, Der Spiegel said, quoting the document, entitled “Global Assembly Footprint”.

According to the document, which the magazine said was presented at a global GM business conference, GM plans to export an additional 300,000 vehicles to the European market from plants in Mexico, Korea and China by 2016.

“No decision has been made in this regard for Opel’s car production,” a spokesman for GM in Europe said on Sunday, responding to media reports that production may be moved away from Germany.

A spokesman for GM’s European-based Opel unit said GM would always seize the opportunities the global automotive market offered, while declining further comment.

Opel Chief Executive Karl-Friedrich Stracke was quoted by German paper Bild on Saturday saying he ruled out plant closures and job cuts in the near term, but added there were “no taboos” in the unit’s efforts to become more profitable in the future.

The statements came after German WAZ group newspapers reported late on Friday, citing government sources, that Stracke had informed the German government about plans to close the Opel plant in Bochum, adding a meeting between Stracke and the workers union was scheduled for Monday.

“We are following the situation closely and we are in contact with the management of Opel,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s Economy Ministry said on Sunday, pointing to Stracke’s comments that locations were safe at least until the end of 2014.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Berlin; Editing by Mark Potter

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