UPDATE 1-GM unit Opel to make Buick vehicles for U.S. in Germany

Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:37am EDT

* Opel to invest 245 mln euros for new model in Ruesselsheim

* Opel to cease exports to China, start production of Buick

* Opel, Buick brands to focus on different geographies (Adds CEO statement, details of GM strategy)

FRANKFURT, March 28 (Reuters) - General Motors unit Opel will make two additional vehicles at its plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany, including a Buick destined for the United States, it said on Friday.

The move forms part of a strategy to intertwine the Opel and Buick product ranges to share development costs, while focusing Opel sales in Europe, and Buick sales in the United States and China.

Opel already makes four variants of its Insignia sedan, which shares the same underpinnings as the Buick Regal, at the Ruesselsheim factory.

"Buick production in Ruesselsheim will further improve our capacity utilisation," Opel Chief Executive Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a statement.

In January 2015 Opel will stop exports to China.

"It would have cost hundreds of millions of euros to raise awareness of the Opel brand and to expand the distribution network. Buick, however, is one of the market leaders in China and we plan to intensify our future collaboration, with several projects currently under examination," Neumann said.

Opel sold only 4,365 cars in China last year, compared with Buick, which sold 810,000 cars.

Opel said it would invest 245 million euros ($337 million) to build a new model at the factory. The investment comes on top of a 4 billion euros investment slated for Germany and Europe to overhaul Opel's ageing product range with 23 new products and 13 new engines.

The auto maker revealed in December that it planned to make a new car, but declined to give further details as a way to preserve a competitive advantage.

($1 = 0.7278 Euros) (Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Mark Potter)

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