“The heart of Opel has ceased to beat,” that was the reaction of one employee as the last car rolled off the production line at the Bochum plant in Germany.
The Opel Zafira compact van which signalled the end will not be sold but kept by the company.
The closure comes as General Motors – Opel’s parent company restructures its loss making European subsidiary.
“It is a really sad day, to come here and to know this is the last shift , you have to leave your stuff after working here for so many years. This site and the Opel brand are so deeply anchored in this region,” Ottilie Scholz, Mayor of Bochum told reporters.
Cars have been made in the plant for the past 52 years which at one time provided jobs for 10,000 people.
Friday’s closure will hit around 3,000 employees in a region where unemployment is currently 9.4 percent. The national average is 6.3 percent.
It’s thought some 700 employees will keep their jobs at the factory to work in the company’s spare parts division.
As part of the agreement with unions General Motors has guaranteed that through to 2018 workers at Opel’s three other plants in Germany will not face layoffs.