GM won’t object to PSA/Dongfeng tie-up, does not expect a big EU turn-around, has no idea about Bochum cost

Girsky-Akerson Picture courtesy turner.com

Girsky-Akerson Picture courtesy turner.com

Reuters star Detroit reporter Ben Klayman had an interview with GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky  today, and a few interesting tidbits transpired. Here  they are, bulleted:

  • GM won’t be in the way if its ailing European partner PSA Peugeot Citroen teams up with China’s Dongfeng Motor.  “We’re not PSA’s only partner … so I don’t think it would complicate our situation any more than it would complicate some of their other partners,” Girsky said. GM is Peugeot’s second-largest shareholder behind the Peugeot family.
  • Girsky thinksthe European automotive market has bottomed out, but GM is not expecting a huge recovery in the next year or two.
  • Girsky said talks with the union representing workers at the Bochum, to be shuttered at the end of 2014, were ongoing. Girksy declined to say what the cost to GM would be. Says Reuters: “The Detroit company spent $527 million in 2010 to close a plant in Antwerp, Belgium, that employed 2,600 people. The Bochum plant has 3,300 employees.”

State-owned Dongfeng is joint venture  partner of PSA’s cross-town rival Renault/Nissan. GM is very much engaged with China’s SAIC. Chinese joint venture partners see no problem in teaming up with competitors. FAW  has joint ventures with Toyota and Volkswagen. SAIC is partner with Volkswagen and GM. Guangzhou Auto is partner with Honda and Toyota.

Closing Bochum is expected to become very expensive. According to Reuters’ math, closing Antwerp did cost $200,000 per head. The cost in Bochum could be much higher than the $700 million that calculation suggests.  Bochum’s works council opposes the closure, which could land Opel in labor court with 3,300 workers. Last year, Opel labor leader Rainer Einenkel announced  “the most expensive plant closure of all times,” and that closing Bochum ” would cost GM billions.”

But does that scare Girksy? In a video interview (above) Girsky says he’s more worries about “the Geelys, the Tatas, and the innovative players, like Tesla, even Google.”