S.he Opel main plant in Rüsselsheim has been working short-time for a good year and a half. The production of the flagship Insignia only lasts for one shift. But now the parent company Stellantis is preparing the second shift. Because Opel has to equip the plant for the compact car Astra and a model of the French sister brand DS. From the summer onwards, the only German Stellantis subsidiary will be building the DS4 there, “later in the year also the next generation of the Opel Astra,” announced the group that emerged from the merger of PSA and Fiat-Chrysler. The second shift is said to start in autumn. The group still keeps the exact point in time to itself.
“Like the entire automotive industry, the Rüsselsheim location is currently in a phase of extensive transformation. With the production of electrified vehicles such as the next Opel Astra, the plant in our hometown will take an important step towards the future, ”said company boss Michael Lohscheller of the FAZ. The construction of the second shift is a very important step in this transformation. “Because this enables us to offer employees from less busy areas of the company a future-proof job. We also rely on the flexibility of our employees here, ”Lohscheller emphasized.
“Around 300 additional jobs in 2021”
On the one hand, this statement relates to noticeable excess capacities that Opel claims to have in some parts of the company. In other words: From the management’s point of view, there are too many employees measured by the available work. This applies to prototype construction, toolmaking, parts storage, design, engineering workshops and purchasing. On the other hand, according to Stellantis, Opel needs more employees for the production of the Astra and DS4 than are currently active in production.
According to this, “around 300 additional positions in final and final assembly” will have to be filled this year. The management now wants to recruit employees from the above-mentioned parts of the company, in which it has identified excess positions, to switch to car manufacturing. With the declared aim of securing these positions in the long term.
“We offer interested employees good prospects, because with the new electrified models, the plant will be well utilized in the long term,” Opel quoted its plant manager Michael Lewald. He points out that the Astra and the DS4 were also built as hybrid models, i.e. in electrified versions, from the very beginning.
Kick-off for the fuel cell
Opel registered short-time working for production in autumn 2019. The rule initially applied for six months, but it has also been extended in view of the negative consequences of the corona pandemic for the automotive industry. Opel parent PSA had shut down the plants for weeks a year ago. The closure of the car dealerships also made sales much more difficult. In addition, there is still the fact that mid-range cars do not promise any growth. “The segment is certainly difficult. We generally see a clear trend towards smaller vehicles. This development also affects the Insignia, ”Lohscheller told the FAZ in March.
In contrast, the Astra has so far represented a quarter of Opel sales, and Stellantis has high hopes for the DS4. Regardless of this, Opel is also increasingly turning to the fuel cell. As Lohscheller told Business Insider magazine, the company wants to start a small series of the appropriately equipped Vivaro van. Opel plans to build 2000 vehicles of the Opel Vivaro-e and its sister models at the main plant. The competence center that deals with hydrogen propulsion for cars is also located there.
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