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The new Rüsselsheim plant has a planned annual capacity of around 270,000 cars, manufactured on a joint production line in three shifts. The facility, which is being built along the lines of the Opel production plant in Eisenach, is one of the biggest projects in the company's DM 9 billion investment program in Germany.

Old Ruesselsheim

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GM/ Opel : Project Yellowstone Plants -
Gliwice Plant

New Opel Polska Plant In Gliwice Based on the Lean Manufacturing Principles of Eisenach

  • Modern Facility can be expanded to an Annual Capacity of 150,000 Units

Gliwice, Poland -- The Opel Polska plant in Gliwice was built in record time: It took only 22 months from the symbolic ground-breaking ceremony in the presence of the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the German Vice-Chancellor, Klaus Kinkel, in October 1996 to the start of production of complete vehicles in August 1998. Production of components started even earlier, in June 1998.

Opel Gliwice Plant   Photo: Opel AG

The plant in the region of Silesia is one of the biggest foreign industrial projects to date in Poland, representing DM 530 million of foreign investment, creating more than 2,000 jobs. It will be one of the most efficient plants in Europe because it incorporates the lean manufacturing principles that had proven themselves at Opel Eisenach in Germany.


The greenfield facility is fully integrated; it includes press, body, paint and final assembly shops. It was built on a concept, which enables easy and quick expansion depending on demand. The project was planned, organized and supervised by Opel's International Technical Development Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany, with major contractors from Poland and other European countries.

After reaching its full initial capacity, the plant will produce 70,000 units of the Astra Classic annually, both for the Polish market and for exports to other markets of Central and Eastern Europe. A second model -- a small city car -- will be introduced in Gliwice in the year 2000, expanding the plant's capacity to 150,000 units annually and bringing total investment to over DM 900 million.

Until March 1999, when the second shift starts, the Opel Polska factory will work on a one-shift system. With the introduction of the second model, the plant will reach its full capacity and will employ nearly 3,000 people on three shifts.

  • Gliwice Offers a lot of Advantages:

The decision to locate the Opel plant in Gliwice, an industrial city with 220,000 people in Poland's southern region of Upper Silesia, was made because of several reasons. The city is strategically placed at an intersection of international rail and road links from East to West and from South to North, offering easy transport to regions ranging from Scandinavia to Southeast Europe, and from any part of Western Europe to the Ukraine and further on to Russia.

The Gliwice Canal, only a few hundred meters away from the Final Assembly shop of the plant, offers a direct waterway link with the Baltic Sea port of Szczecin. The site is also close to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and eastern Germany, which assures close co-operation with international suppliers in the metal, chemical, mechanical and electrical industries, so vital to car manufacturing. Last but not least, is the availability of highly qualified engineers, technicians and skilled industrial workers, thanks to the presence of one of the best polytechnical institutes in the country and several secondary technical schools.

The investment agreement between General Motors, Adam Opel AG and the Polish government was an important factor in locating the plant within the Katowice Special Economic Zone, which covers some 800 hectares in 6 municipalities. The Opel Polska plant occupies 70 hectares of the Gliwice part of the Zone.

  • New Recruitment Process for Employees:

New methods in Poland, were used during the recruitment process for the Gliwice plant: The so-called Assessment Center. Recruitment started in April 1997. Over 34,000 candidates submitted their application forms. From among those applicants, so far some 1,200 have been selected and offered employment contracts. The ongoing recruitment process focuses on selecting people with the highest ability to work successfully in a team, to learn continuously new methods and skills, and to solve unexpected problems. About 20 percent of Opel Polska employees come from various sectors of the mining industry, still the dominant industry in Silesia, but the one which is now undergoing rigorous restructuring.

Almost all new employees undergo intensive training of several months' duration in Opel and GM plants in Europe and in the USA. Altogether, Opel Polska teams have so far trained at 17 GM and Opel facilities. For example, Stig Runesson, Paint Shop Manager at the Saab plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, said: "I am honored to be responsible for the Polish group. They are eager to learn and to give their best. I am confident that the Opel Polska team will be well prepared to set new quality standards."

  • Astra Classic Highly Popular:

The Gliwice plant produces the Astra Classic, Opel's best-selling model in history, in three engine versions: 1.4 (44 kW/60 hp), 1.6 (55 kW/75 hp) and 1.6 16V (74 kW/100hp), and in three body styles (hatchback, notchback and station wagon). For many years, the Astra Classic has been the most popular Opel car in Poland. Since the inauguration of the Astra assembly plant in Warsaw in November 1994, sales of this model have been steadily growing (1994: 3,206 units; 1995: 8,657; 1996: 15,490; 1997: 22,514; January - September 1998: 18,920).

Only one year after the start of production in Warsaw, the "Polish" Astra received the ISO 9002 certificate from two independent certifying bodies: The British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Polish Center for Research and Certification (PCBC). In January 1998, the locally-produced Astra Classic was named "Product of the Year 1997" by the Polish Business Club. Intensive and broad staff training, newest work methods and techniques, modern production processes and technology are employed in order to assure the highest possible quality of the Astra Classic "Made in Gliwice".

  • Growing Car Market in Poland:

For a few years now, the Polish car market has been consistently one of the largest and strongest markets in Europe, oscillating between the 6th and the 7th place. Annual sales of new cars have reached the level of 500,000 units, and there continues to be a strong growth tendency. Parallel to the unprecedented market growth,

Opel has been developing its dealer and service network. In 1993, Opel had 28 dealer outlets and 14 authorized service stations in the largest Polish cities; today the network has grown to 102 dealerships covering the whole country.

Along with positively influencing the general economic growth of the country, local car manufacturing also leads to a steady rise in personal incomes, ever-easier credit availability, lower inflation and strengthening of the free-market economy. With the planned accession of Poland to the European Union only a few years away, prospects for serious investors in the Polish car manufacturing industry look promising and mutually beneficial


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