So it looks as if Vauxhall has escaped a serious axing as General Motors rushes to restructure the European division it thought it would have to sell.
Brit Nick Reilly has been sent in to restructure GM Europe - a plan he says will be finalised within three weeks.
Job losses are pegged at 9000, with around 5300 falling on Germany and rest distributed between Belgium, Spain and the UK. Only the Antwerp plant looks set for the axe, unless another role can be found for it.
Ellesmere Port – currently working seven days a week to build up launch stocks of the new Astra – will breathe a relative sigh of relief.
Reilly said at this afternoon’s press conference that saving GM Europe would make ‘GM stronger globally’. “We all have the same objective: To create a viable, sustainable company. This is very do-able.”
That’s no surprise. Before the global crash GM had neatly engineered a new global manufacturing system and a range of global platforms. The crisis almost allowed that to slip through GM’s fingers, but if this restructuring works, GM’s dream of becoming a truly global carmaker is back on track.
The big ‘if’ is money. Reilly said that GME wants £3.3bn Euros in loans from European governments for the restructuring operation.
This sum is partly to pay for the lay-offs, partly to tide GME over (Reilly says the European new car market will be ‘very weak’ in 2010) and partly for investment in new products.
GM’s US headquarters will also contribute restructuring funds, but that will have to be given the green light by the US Government, which currently has a large stake in GM. Money can only be sent overseas if GM Detroit can convince the US government that doing so will bolster the whole of GM.
If the Obama administration agrees, it just underlines the importance of Vauxhall/Opel to GM’s global operation.