General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen continue their efforts to get government support for the sale of GM’s European Opel-Vauxhall division to PSA.
Germany’s Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig said initial talks with the carmakers have produced some encouraging signals that jobs at Opel factories will be preserved, but no binding guarantees yet.
He called speculation “premature at this point” and expressed hope that a combination with France’s PSA could form the basis of a better future for Opel.
Job cuts are a sensitive subject in Germany ahead of September’s federal election.
Against a background of major overcapacity in Europe’s car industry, a report in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that PSA has pledged to continue operating all four of Opel’s German production sites has worried union officials and some politicians in Britain, where Vauxhall is based.
“We are increasingly concerned after reports that German plants are safe,” a trade union source told the Reuters news agency.
However, British business minister Greg Clark said PSA executives had told him they valued the Vauxhall brand and prided themselves on not closing plants. Answering a question in the UK parliament on Monday, he added PSA was not in a position to give guarantees as it was still in talks with GM.
PSA Group’s boss Carlos Tavares is due to meet Clark this week and possibly Len McCluskey, the head of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also plans to speak with Tavares and is determined to protect Britain’s car industry, her spokesman said on Monday.
A German Economy Ministry spokesman said Berlin was also in contact with the British government and the two countries would not let themselves be played off against each other.