Karl-Friedrich Stracke today stepped down as the boss of General Motors’ European arm, just six months after taking up the position.
The 56-year-old became head of the Opel brand in April 2011 and was Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering for GM from 2009. General Motors says that it will now search for Stracke’s replacement.
The move surprised the industry, but the news comes shortly before Vauxhall/Opel announces its financial results for the second quarter. These are expected to show an acceleration in losses as the economic situation in Europe continues to deteriorate. Sales were down 12 percent in the first five months of this year and GME was expected to lose around £800m in 2012 and £700m in 2013.
Stracke presented a plan to restructure the GM’s European arm as recently as the end of June, but analysts are speculating that Vauxhall/Opel is now facing a significant increase on the £166m loss it posted in the first quarter of 2012. It now looks increasingly likely that Vauxhall/Opel will take much more drastic action in terms of reducing its production capacity and workforce than it had previously planned.
Peugeot-Citroën’s shock move to sack at least 5000 people and close a factory is an indication of the serious situation facing Europe’s mass-market carmakers. With new car sales in Europe now projected to fall for the next few years, most makers are struggling with under-utilised factories and the need to discount new cars in order to make sales.
Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has been campaigning for government to help coordinate a synchronised reduction in capacity among Europe’s ailing carmakers in order to stem the massive losses.