EU Economics

Germans blame us for car job cuts: Opel Group says working hours at its factories will be cut as it comes to terms with the referendum vote

  • Germany’s Opel Group said Eisenach and Russelheim factories affected
  • Working hours for staff would be cut due to UK Brexit vote in June
  • It makes Vauxhalls such as the Corsa, the UK’s second most popular car

The foreign maker of Vauxhall cars has blamed Brexit for slashing staff hours in Germany.

Opel Group said working hours would be cut at its factories in Eisenach and Russelheim as it comes to terms with the referendum vote.

The decision to leave was followed by a fall in the pound, making imported vehicles more expensive and giving UK exporters a boost.

The foreign makers of popular vehicle, the Vauxhall Corsa car, has warned cuts to staff hours are  due to the UK's Brexit vote

This is likely to hit profits at foreign-owned marques if they do not increase prices – and will lose them sales if they do.

The Vauxhall Corsa is the nation’s second-most popular car after the Ford Fiesta.

And the three-door model, which accounts for half of those sales, is made in Eisenach.

Opel also produces the Insignia saloon in Germany.

Vauxhall and Opel have both been owned by General Motors since before the Second World War, and their lines were merged together in the 1970s.

Although Vauxhall is considered a UK brand by many consumers, most of its vehicles are imported.

Opel had already warned Brexit would cost it around £305m due to currency moves and weaker demand if there was an economic downturn.

In the aftermath of the vote, car makers warned that sales could fall – and analysts said they might drop 20pc if Britain entered a recession.

Around 2.7million new cars were expected to be sold in Britain this year, 700,000 more than in 2015.

But this suggests no growth in the six months following Brexit after a 3.2 per cent sales rise in the first half-year.

However, robust retail sales figures suggest consumers have not been cowed by the apocalyptic warnings issued during the campaign.

They were up 1.4 per cent in July, well ahead of expectations.

Fellow German carmarker Volkswagen is also cutting production across the nation because of slow deliveries from component firms

And although no detailed statistics on car buying have been released since the vote, anecdotal evidence suggests little has changed in the industry – which is often seen as a barometer for confidence.

Dealers such as Marshall Motor Holdings and Lookers, which between them have more than 350 sites across the country, have said it has been business as usual.

Opel said that about 5,000 workers would be affected by the reduced hours.

Their severity would depend heavily on UK sales volumes, it said.

‘The Brexit situation is an issue for everybody who does business in and with the UK at the moment,’ the firm said.

‘There will be an impact on our European financial performance if the pound remains at its current level for the rest of the year.’

Although Opel directly blamed Brexit for its decision to scale back, it is not the only German car maker to do so.

Volkswagen is cutting production across the nation because of slow deliveries from component firms, with about 20,000 workers likely to see their hours affected.k

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