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Opel To Boost Shifts In Germany

GM unit said it will introduce extra shifts at a German plant after demand for its Corsa model soared thanks to a government bonus for buyers who scrap their old cars.

BERLIN (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s unit Opel said Wednesday it will introduce extra shifts at a German plant after demand for its Corsa model soared thanks to a government bonus for buyers who scrap their old cars.

The government last month introduced a euro2,500 ($3,200) bonus for people who scrap aging cars and buy new ones. The effort to boost the ailing auto industry is part of a euro50 billion economic stimulus package for Europe's biggest economy.

Orders for the fuel-efficient compact Corsa are now three times higher than they were before the bonus was introduced, Adam Opel GmbH said in a statement.

To meet the demand, the automaker said it would back off plans for shorter working hours at its Eisenach plant.

It said the plant, in the former East Germany, would work its usual three shifts per day in March and will also work a number of extra shifts.

Opel said the positive effect of the German bonus program was magnified by similar programs in France and Italy. A plant in Zaragoza, Spain that produces the Corsa, Meriva and Combo models also is working around the clock to satisfy demand, it added.

The surge in demand comes as parent GM's troubles stoke worries about the European unit's future.

German officials have indicated that they are willing to help keep open Opel plants, but are insisting that the company outline a long-term plan for the division first.

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