FRANKFURT, June 13 General Motors will
build a small number of its Opel Corsa hatchbacks in Belarus
from next year as its European brand seeks to diversify outside
its core market.
Opel, known as Vauxhall in Britain, said on Thursday that
parent GM signed a deal to assemble the subcompact car from
semi-finished kits at the Minsk factory of British-Belarusian
Initial plans call for a series of 7,000 cars in the first
full year of production, for sale in Russia, Belarus and
Assembling vehicles in this way is a common and inexpensive
way for carmakers to circumvent import duties. Only a small
amount of work is done locally, with the bulk of the
manufacturing process carried out at home - in Opel's case, at
its Eisenach and Zaragoza plants in western Europe.
The deal is for production to continue into 2017, with an
option to add further models.
"Building the Corsa in Belarus is part of our strategy to
make cars where we sell them. The supply of assembly kits to a
growing market also means additional utilisation of our
capacities in Eisenach and Zaragoza," Opel production chief
Peter Thom said.
GM's losses in Europe more than doubled to $1.8 billion last
year and it expects only a slight improvement in 2013, with car
demand near 20-year lows.
Apart from Russia and Turkey - the only two big growth
markets where Opel maintains notable operations - the business
depends mainly on demand in western European countries such as
Italy, France and Spain, where overall car sales have plummeted.
Overcapacity problems in Opel's western European plants has
led to speculation that the Mokka SUV could soon be built in
Zaragoza, Spain, and the Chevrolet Cruze in Opel's Polish plant
in Gliwice, rather than South Korea.