Opel's Eisenach plant restarts production following chip crunch

Opel has resumed production at its plant in Eisenach, Germany, after a break of more than three months due to a lack of parts.

The first Opel Grandland SUV rolled off the production line on 6 January morning, the company said.

The model, which received a facelift in 2021, will now be manufactured exclusively in Eisenach and will be available at dealerships starting in February, the company said.

Bodo Ramelow, the Prime Minister of Thuringia, Eisenach's Home State, and Opel CEO Uwe Hochgeschurtz, were also reportedly on site to witness the restart.

Opel stopped production at the plant at the end of September 2021 due to a shortage of semiconductors.

An ensuing debate about a possible spin-off of the Eisenach plant from the German company caused great concern in the German state of Thuringia. After protests from the workforce, parent company Stellantis abandoned the plans in November 2021.

In an interview with the Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper, Hochgeschurtz declared his support for the Eisenach site.

"We are delighted the new Opel Grandland can now roll off the production line here in Eisenach," Xavier Chéreau, Opel Supervisory Board Chairman and Stellantis Head of Human Resources said in a statement. 

"The social dialogue has once again led to constructive solutions that benefit the competitiveness of the site, which is all the more important given the profound changes in the automotive industry."

Opel is the only German brand in the Stellantis car group, which was formed from the merger of PSA Peugeot Citrëon and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles.

Since the merger in August 2017, thousands of Opel jobs have been cut in agreement with the union, with compulsory redundancies ruled out until summer 2025.

The production stop that hit Opel in 2021 is just one of many that has roiled the global automotive industry and impacted all automakers.

The impact of the chip shortage has been substantial: Mercedes lost the premium sales crown to BMW as the chip shortage hits deliveries, representing the first time in five years that the BMW has outsold its German rival.