General Motors could close Portuguese van factory.jpg

General Motors could close Portuguese van factory

THE AMERICAN car giant General Motors (GM) has dispelled rumours that it could close its Portuguese van factory in 2008 in response to the US car industry crisis.

According to the company, it is carrying out a review as part of an overall global examination as to why its light commercial vehicle division is doing less than well in the European market compared with its nearest rivals. However, GM said that rumours about the closure of its factory in Portugal, which produces the Combo Van and Combo Tour, were “pure speculation”.

GM, which has been in the country since 1963, has a plant in Azambuja, near Lisbon, which employs 1,027 people. Last year, it produced 73,711 vehicles, 65 per cent were Opel Combo vans and 35 per cent were Opel Combo Tour vans.

The Portuguese Minister of the Economy, who last year averted Volkswagen’s threat to scale down operations in Portugal at its Autoeuropa plant in Palmela, said that he is committed to keeping Portuguese industry competitive and dynamic.

Speaking after a conference entitled ‘Innovation and competitiveness in companies – opportunities and solutions’, he said that all subjects linked with the car industry were receiving the government’s full attention. The minister added that there was a lot of fierce competition in the car industry at an international level.

Nelson Silveira, spokesman for GM Portugal, told car magazine Automotive News that the Opel vehicles would continue to be produced in Portugal at least until 2009.