FRANKFURT -- Opel, the loss-making German arm of  General Motors, said Monday it would halt auto production at its Bochum plant in 2016 but pledged to keep it running as a parts distribution center.

"Opel management has today informed the workforce that full vehicle production at the Bochum plant will be discontinued after production of the Zafira model is scheduled to cease in 2016," the statement said.

Opel had already announced in June that it would stop building Zafira cars in Bochum in 2016.

"The main reasons behind this decision are the dramatic decline in the European car market and the enormous overcapacity in the entire industry," Opel explained.

Despite "intensive efforts, we have been unable to change this situation."

On Friday, the works committee had said the decision meant the entire site would be shut down with the loss of 3,000 jobs.

But management insisted that would not be the case and that although vehicle production would cease, Bochum would be used as a parts distribution centre after that date.

Indeed, in its new function, the plant could even be expanded as part of an initiative to secure existing jobs at Bochum and even create new ones.

"It is our clear intention to safeguard the jobs of a significant number of Opel employees in Bochum, said head of GM Europe Steve Girsky.

"Germany is our most important market and, with around 20,000 employees, the backbone and home of our brand. That will remain true in the future," said Opel deputy chief Thomas Sedran.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012