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Brexit fears force GM to cut working hours at two German plants

22 August 2016

General Motors division Opel yesterday said that it was cutting working hours at two German plants due to lower demand for its Corsa and Insignia models in the wake of the UK vote to exit the EU.

The UK is the biggest market for both vehicles.

"We can confirm that there will be short-time work in the plants in Ruesselsheim and Eisenach during the course of this year," Opel said in a statement, adding that the number of days when shorter working hours applied would depend on the sales volume of the Insignia and the Corsa in the UK.

"The Brexit situation is an issue for everybody who does business in and with the UK at the moment and we already announced last month that there will be an impact on our European financial performance if the value of the pound remains at its current level for the rest of the year," Opel said.

General Motors said last month that it might not need to cut costs in Europe to offset up to $400 million of potential headwinds triggered by the UK's Brexit vote, which led to deterioration in the value of the pound against the euro, making components imported from Europe to the UK more expensive.

The pound had weakened against the dollar and euro since the UK's 23 June vote to leave the EU, which increased costs of exports to the UK.

The Opel cars sell under the Vauxhall brand in the UK.

The spokesman did not specify the number of  fewer hours Opel staff in Germany would work.

GM's European division, which included Vauxhall in the UK, posted a second quarter profit of $0.1 billion, its first profit in five years.

However, GM warned last month that cost-cutting was on the cards as the effect of Brexit could cost it up to $400 million.

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