BUSAN, South Korea (Reuters) - A top General Motors Co (GM.N) official said on Thursday the automaker has no plans to shift production from its factories in South Korea to Europe, where it recently announced a restructuring at its Opel subsidiary.
South Korea’s traditionally militant trade unions have threatened “war” with GM if it shifts output of the Chevrolet model from Korea.
“Are we looking at (it)? We always do. But do we have anything? No,” Sergio Rocha, president and chief executive of GM Korea, told reporters on the sidelines of the Busan International Motor Show in South Korea on Thursday.
Earlier this month, GM said it would build the next generation of its Astra compact at a factory in Britain, leaving its plant in Bochum, Germany in danger of closing.
GM CEO Dan Akerson floated the idea in December that more cost-cutting at Opel could be accompanied by shifting production from Asia to make European plants more efficient. German unions jumped on that idea, suggesting Chevrolet production from Korea could be moved to Germany.
Most of GM’s Chevrolet cars sold in Europe are produced in South Korea.
A source subsequently told Reuters some production of Chevrolet vehicles could be shifted from South Korea to Europe, with the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany, the likely beneficiary.
GM lost $747 million on its European operations last year, and the automaker is scrambling to cut costs and boost efficiency.
GM has repeatedly said a decision on plant closings in Europe was not imminent and ruled out closing any sites until the end of 2014, when its current labor deal with the German union IG Metall expires.
GM also said Thursday it will expand its design center in Incheon, Korea, doubling its size to include new modeling studios, display spaces and areas for creative work. The company did not disclose how much it will invest for the expansion.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by David Chance, Richard Borsuk and Jeffrey Benkoe