* PSA Group in talks with Segula Technologies about R&D
* PSA eyes strategic partnership with Segula on Opel R&D
* Up to 2,000 Opel jobs could be transferred to Segula (Adds comments from Opel CEO)
By Edward Taylor
FRANKFURT, Sept 5 (Reuters) - PSA Group’s Opel unit said it is working on plans to protect 2,000 research jobs in Ruesselsheim, Germany by transfering them to a new company run by French firm Segula Technologies.
Research and development work in Ruesselsheim has dropped since French carmaker PSA’s purchase of the Opel and Vauxhall brands from General Motors for $2.6 billion last year.
Ruesselsheim was once a global engineering hub for developing small and medium sized vehicles for various brands including Opel, Vauxhall and Buick and R&D work for GM accounted for 50 percent of the centre’s workload.
“The Segula Technologies proposal aims at creating a European engineering campus and Center of Excellence in Ruesselsheim enlarging the scope beyond the automotive industry and including fields such as rail and energy,” PSA’s Opel said.
In addition to a lack of work from GM, Opel needs fewer engineers capable of developing vehicle platforms because new cars are now built on underpinnings provided by PSA.
Segula Technologies will become a subcontractor for Opel if a deal is struck, but Opel will not retain a stake in the venture, Opel Chief Executive Michael Lohscheller said.
Any deal is subject to agreement by Opel’s works council and would include vehicle and propulsion engineering facilities together with up to 2,000 employees of the Ruesselsheim research and development being taken over by Segula, Opel said.
Uncertainty over the future of Opel’s engineering centre has already led to a wave of departures among Opel’s senior engineering staff and when rumours of a sale first surfaced in July, Opel’s labour leaders were quick to condemn plans they said would “threaten Opel’s existence”.
Segula technologies is offering to protect jobs until July 2023, Opel said. Lohscheller declined to say whether the transfer of jobs will have a positive financial impact for Opel. (Reporting by Edward Taylor; editing by Riham Alkousaa/Maria Sheahan/Alexander Smith)