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Auto Industry

New GM chief Barra visits ailing Opel subsidiary in Germany

Newly appointed General Motors chief Mary Barra has paid a visit to the company's struggling European subsidiary, Opel. She insisted the German carmaker had an important role to play in helping GM thrive.

During her visit to Opel's headquarters in Rüsselsheim on Monday, General Motors' new chief executive, Mary Barra, said it was not by chance she'd picked Germany for the first visit abroad in her new capacity.

She added she viewed Opel as a crucial part of the company as she turned her attention to the GM's loss-making European division.

Opel lost $200 million (146 million euros) in the 2013 third quarter, the plan being to break even by the middle of this decade and become profitable by 2016.

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Opel and its sister brand Vauxhall saw their sales slip by another 1.4 percent throughout last year in a sluggish European car market. Putting a positive spin on otherwise gloomy figures, the carmaker made a point of emphasizing that the market share inched up to 6.8 percent from 6.7 percent a year earlier.

As Europe still struggles with weak demand and the aftermath of a protracted financial crisis, new versions of Opel's Corsa and Astra are meant to improve the overall business situation.

Barra indicated an additional model would be built at the Rüsselsheim facility, but she didn't give any more details. But she confirmed another Opel plant at Bochum would be closed down by the end of the year.

hg/jr (AP, Reuters)

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