Opel's Antwerp Plant Made its Last Opel Astra

Opel's Antwerp production line spawned its last Astra yesterday (December 15) as speculation on the future of the Belgian plant continues to confuse the media. GM, the Belgian government and European Union representatives, all seek a buyer for the Antwerp site, apparently with no success.

"We had the television reports and pictures of the last cars on the assembly line," said Vic Heylen, a consultant at Flanders Centre for Automotive Research, as cited by just-auto. "GM does not want to have cars built in its own back yard - what they want is what they did to Saab."

Maynards Industries has taken over Opel's press and paint shop for 'industrial liquidation' and although it is as yet unclear who might purchase those elements, it is almost certain that they will be moved from Antwerp.

"A press shop can press sheet metal for any car but the production line is dedicated to the old Astra," said Heylen.

Belgian members of the European Parliament recently visited the Antwerp site, accompanied by some unnamed Chinese guests, although their identity continues to be a mystery, the consultant noted.

Sources in Belgium indicated that the plant "is definitely closing," and that the Port of Antwerp is now trying to buy the land and is in negotiations with GM.

A workers' union even went as far as to say that GM sabotaged the selling process of the factory refusing talks with the interested parties.

"There was a very, very big Chinese interest but Opel said there was not a business case," European Metalworkers Federation company policy director Tony Murphy told just-auto from Belgium. "I can't understand the thinking about Opel - as long as they sell it [the site] for the price they want - I think realistically they did not want to sell it to the Chinese."
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