By on November 15, 2008

Leave it to the B&B to really transcend the as-good-as-defeated General’s Battle of the Deficit-Bulge, aimed right at the German taxpayer’s money,  a.k.a. Government loan guarantees for Opel. Tireguy typed: “The imminent bankruptcy of GM could endanger seriously Opel, although Opel is still profitable.” Deutschland appears to agree. As we shall soon see, some may have a slightly less philanthropic angle. Let’s get right to the point: Opel, Heim ins Reich, anyone? Indeed, some in Germany seem to be itching for a re-match of the Ardennenoffensive. Opel is GM’s heavy artillery in the bastion Europe. Some 75 percent of GM’s European business comes from Opel. If the not-so-secret plan survives, the offensive against General “Nuts” Wagoner will be fought partially in Brussels, coincidentally not far from Bastogne. The broken record called history repeats, again and again. Executive summary of the order of battle follows. Right this way, please!

At the home front, the General begs for money, as amply chronicled in 190-and-growing episodes of the bailout watch. The General’s attack on the federal reserve troops gets bogged-down in the swamplands of Washington. If there is a chance of success, the EU shouts: “Incoming! Unfair trade practices!” With a cruise missile en-route via the WTO. Further hand wrangling ensues. That’ll keep ‘em busy. Meanwhile, back in Germany, Opel falls into the honey-trap of government money, loaded with caveats. GM goes bust, Germany forecloses Opel to keep Opel open.  A white knight. Dankeschön. What did Willy Brandt say? “Jetzt wächst zusammen, was zusammen gehört.” Germany and Opel, together again. Re-united, 80 years after Opel had sold out to GM, also coincidentally, during a prior Great Depression of 1929. Sound far-fetched? You think, Porsche’s financial engineering was/is easy? Compared to that, a grab of Opel would be child’s play.

Quick summary of what happened after “Bailout Watch, German Edition, Zwei: “Angela, I’m Sorry. Opel Deserves Less:” Silence from Berlin. What do you expect, everybody who’s somehow related to money was already on their way to Washington, to attend the G20 gabfest widely misnomed as Bretton Woods II. (Some leaders of state call it a Bretton Woodshed, because they want to take America behind it.) Berlin signaled they’ll take up the Opel matter once back from DC.

Amongst the German states, Demant’s plea caused considerable chatter, especially emanating from states where Opel has factories, and voting workers. General consensus: “Loan guarantees? A definite maybe. Let’s think about it.”  Most hectic is Opel’s home Hesse.  On Monday, their cabinet shall clear the draft of a law that is being typed up over this week-end. Come Wednesday, the state of Hesse will convene its parliament to hopefully approve loan guarantees to the tune of €500m for Opel, but, mind the fine-print, “also for the parts suppliers,” Autohaus reports.

There are 1600 parts suppliers in Hesse alone, already buying hats to have them ready in their hands. Rhineland-Palatinate, where 3350 workers assemble components for Opel (and, as we shall soon see, all of GM, which hasn’t paid their bills) has signaled that they might sign-on also, “in the interest of our workers,” quoth Palatinate’s Premier Kurt Beck. In Eisenach, Thuringia, where 1728 workers assemble the diminutive Corsa, help is not being ruled out. But it comes loaded with blasting agents. Again, if Opel gets help, scores of parts suppliers won’t be left out either.

Then, Mike Mohring, head of the ruling CDU faction in Thuringia, proposed a “car summit,” chaired by Berlin, with all German auto makers and representatives of the parts suppliers around the table. That according to the Handelsblatt. Imagine your competitors and creditors having a sit-down, deliberating your fate. No good for Opel can come from that one. North Rhine-Westphalia, where 5000 workers make the Kadett and the Zafira in Bochum (they also make axles and transmissions for all of GM, which as we shall soon see, is in arrears) was last to at least “show willingness”  to underwrite the loan guarantees, their paper WAZ reports today. That’s the good news.

Now, let’s serve up a little something to cleanse the palate for the Euros on the collection plate circulating amongst Deutschland’s Länder. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, based in Munich, home of BMW, dropped the bombshell that Opel is in tatters, because they are waiting and waiting and waiting on €2b of unpaid bills from Opel to GM. The unpaid bills are sitting on the desk of “Red Ink” Rick. The check isn’t even in the mail. The paper has the info from “sources amongst the states.” Looks like someone at Opel spilled the unaccounted-for beans to their Premier, he told it to another Premier, the driver of the state BMW overheard it, and it landed in the Munich paper.

Opel needs loan guarantees, because GM can’t pay? That’s no grounds for amusement, especially not in states where GM doesn’t have plants, but Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, et al have. Just to make matters more interesting, those other companies also make EU-like noises along the lines of unfair trade practices. They say it might be against the law if Opel gets its exclusive snout in the German trough. “All, or nothing!” is their war cry.

Interesting also the latest utterings from Opel-Chief Hans Demant. After wagging his tail at Wagoner, Demant suddenly seeks a little distance from the sinking mother ship. He says, the guarantees are a precaution for the “theoretical case that the financial streams with GM in the USA  go dry.” (Translation: When GM gets blown up with a compound commonly known as C7.)  If that is the case, then “Opel will need the cash to continue.”

A-ha! Dermant, no fool, already pandering to interested third parties? If you ask Europe’s auto makers, they all think Opel is doing just fine. Their cars are respected competition. Opel’s numbers are generally regarded as black. If there is any recent red, then it’s caused by GM who sucked Opel dry. Soon, they’ll be black again. Opel is contemplating a rigorous austerity package. Even travel expenses and bonuses for managers aren’t sacrosanct. At Opel. Not in Detroit.

Anyway, remember Demant’s hint that GM shouldered him with €1b of losses? It takes experts versed in the arcane arts of transfer pricing between arms-length parties to get to the murky bottom of this, but rest assured, they will. Before Opel will see even a single governmental cent, they will have to open their books as wide as the coat of a dirty old man in Central Park. Germany’s Minister of Economics, Michael Glos, says “solid numbers must be put on the table so that we can analyze the situation.” Ouch, the auditors.

Next thumb-screw to come: Opel will have to prove that “the money won’t flow back through the Atlantic and vanish in a big hole in Detroit,” as one industry wag said it to the nods of all not associated with Opel. Demant was surprisingly prepared for this: “Any monies will only be used for investments into R&D and tooling in our European plants. Under no circumstances would the money go abroad.”

“And where is the re-match of the Ardennes?” some will undoubtedly question. Glad you did ask. Eins: Rest assured that if the loan guarantees come, there will be language to get the German assets into the hands of the German guarantors in case of a default.  If needed, a default can be assured via WTO action.  Zwei:

Whenever matters automotive are being discussed in Germany, no story is complete without a quote from Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, automotive wag extraordinaire, who once was suspected by Spiegel magazine that he was in Daimler’s deep pockets (Dudenhöffer sued, Spiegel retracted.) Handelsblatt printed a long interview with the Professor: “Opel has only two chances left. One chance is that they get sold to an interested party with money. The other chance is that GM gets bailed out by the US government.”

Note: Dudenhöffer is on the side of the 60% of the Americans who predict bankruptcy for GM, heck, all of Detroit.  Note: A sale is first of Dudenhöffer’s short list of chances. Yet he cautions: “To find a buyer, in the midst of a crisis, will be tough.” Someone hatching (or hedging) plans to get Opel on the cheap? We haven’t heard the last of it….

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32 Comments on “Editorial: Bailout Watch, German Edition, Drei: Opel, Heim Ins Reich?...”


  • avatar
    tom

    Awesome piece…so how do you rate the chances of Opel going onto federal hands?

    I could see the federal government as well as the local governments that have Opel plants in their states throwing some money on the table in order to get Opel “Heim ins Reich”. But I’m not versed enough when it comes to international law…could they force GM to hand over Opel to them via the WTO if Opel owes them? Would Opel have to go bankrupt for a deal like that to be possible, or would it be GM? Or both?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Very interesting piece. And it seems plausible that Opels recent problem has much to do with GM owing them two billion dollars, as Opels figures was in the black prior to GM:s problems. Very interesting indeed.

    And what about Saab? As they share a lot of common technology, what’s the word there?

  • avatar
    tom

    I’ve just read an article where it was hinted that Opel is looking for investors to buy them off GM. Apparently, they’re also thinking about giving employees some shares in exchange for smaller wages and/or more work hours.

    What such a move would imply for Vauxhall and Saab is also interesting. I’d think that Vauxhall would be part of the deal, as that’s basically just another name for Opel, used in the UK.

    As with Saab, even though they’re technically also Opels, I don’t think the Germans would be interested in acquireing that. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see…is such a deal even possible? Would anyone invest in Opel? And if so, can/should it be separated from Vauxhall/Saab?

  • avatar
    tom

    And the news keep pouring in:

    Klaus Franz, chairman of Opel’s work council demanded that the politicians should make sure that the money cannot leave Opel. He then went on to say that the workers will only cooperate with GM when it comes the $750 million cost cuttings if it will secure Opel plants. “We will not provide a single cent if it then gets burnt by GM in return.”

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship…

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Well, the problem with this bailout is that if GM doesn’t have to money and Opel is bailed out, that money will stay in Europe, but the bailout in itself makes it possible for GM to continue not paying off their debts. So no, the money doesn’t leave Europe, but the money GM owes doesn’t leave america either.

  • avatar
    tom

    But the money GM owes Opel won’t leave America anyhow.

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    Hi Bertel,

    interesting piece. Although, – as a German – I do not like your indications about “Ardennenoffensive” or “Heim ins Reich”. This gives the whole thing a touch it simply does not deserve. Reality is complicated enough without throwing in some Third Reich stuff.

    Actually, Germans do not care normally that Opel is owned by GM. They see it as a mostly German company, which it is. However, any country would be quite unhappy if a foreign mothership like GM sinks a company like Opel due to the fact that they do not pay their bills or take out the money via intercompany agreements. Opel has made tough cuts in the last years, with the assistance from the workers council. While the UAW contributed to the demise of GM, the german and other european workers contributed to putting Opel back into the black.

    Obviously, if the German government would give guarantees it must be made sure this money does not flow to GM. We have already paid dearly for the Subprime debacle. We will not bail out GM.

    What this means for the ownership in Opel is a good question. The state does not really have an interest in buying Opel. Any other investor is fine. There is no need to make Opel German owned.

    Certainly, seeing this there is some kind of feeling of mice leaving the sinking ship. But what to do else? Continue paying GM due to unfair intercompany agreements? Delivering to GM parts or cars without guarantee to be paid? Hell, NO! If I would be Demant, who is also under German law responsible as a director, he must now pull all levers to make sure that Opel is not further drained. Finally, if GM would take the decision to sell Opel, they might have the chance to make some money. At least enough to survive another 14 days.

    Regards
    Tireguy

  • avatar
    charly

    One has to see the difference between the brand and the factories with the same name. Vauxhall plants specialize in building only some types of Vauxhall/Opel cars while the Vauxhall brand is used for cars made by Opel/Vauxhall and sold in the UK. Opel is even used for cars sold in other left-handed countries. Vauxhall’s are also mostly designed in Germany and not in the UK. Saab could still be split off Opel

    Saab is the luxery brand of Opel. It makes a lot of economic sense to also include it in the sale. (assuming that buying Opel makes economic sense which is the question but that doesn’t really matter for the likely buyer, a Russian company “not controlled by the state”)

    ps. If GM sells Opel that it wouldn’t only sell Vauxhall also but most like saab as well. And selling Saturn brand with it would increase the price nicely

  • avatar
    tom

    I wonder what would happen to Chevrolet South America, they’re basically selling re-badged Opels…

  • avatar

    @Tireguy: Between us Krauts, don’t take my Hitlerite writings too seriously.It’s show business. Gotta play the part. As far as the Länder go, they are not adverse to owning a piece of the pie. Lower Saxony did great with their VW shares. Baden Wurttemberg is eyeing a chunk of Daimler. And we know how us Germans are: Once two do it, all do it.

    Demant? Let’s not forget that they changed Opel to a GmbH, the lowest form of a German corporation which anybody can start who has €10000 to put in a bank account (and which can be spent immediately.) Demant is the Managing Director of said GmbH, and he serves at the pleasure of the owners. Means: He can be fired on the spot. Any apprentice has more job security than a MD of a German GmbH. He’ll be very careful in exercising his fiduciary responsibilities.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Saturn adding value to a sale would be impossible as it is no longer a “wholly owned subsidiary” of GM, but a marketing arm that sells GM products under the “Saturn” name.

    Spring Hill, the original plant that was built to make Saturns and only Saturns under a unique union contract now builds the Chevy Traverse.

    From the pens on the desk to the engineers, stylists, workers, Saturn was probably the purest interation of an “all GM” car. All money was drained from everything else @ GMNA to feed Roger Smith’s Walter Mitty fantasy of a dried up bean counter becoming an automobile mogul. Surprising it wasn’t call the “Smith”.

    All other Saturns either come down the same lines as other GM brands or come from Europe in the form of the poorly selling and money losing Astra.

    There is nothing for GM to sell there. What does this mean for Holden in Australia?

  • avatar
    br549

    While the UAW contributed to the demise of GM, the german and other european workers contributed to putting Opel back into the black.

    To suggest that Opel’s incredibly strong union, IG Metall, is some kind of benevolent and helpful partner while the UAW is an unbending contributor to GM’s demise is a bit disingenuous. Ask Volgswagen. And furthermore, scan the 2007 UAW agreement which gave worker concessions the likes of which IG Metall would never agree to.

  • avatar
    albert

    Selling Opel would not mean just selling the European operations! Almost all activities outside of North America (except the Daewoo based products) depend on the technical know how of Opel.
    Selling Opel would probably give everone at Opel a feeling of getting out of prison as they have been restricted way too much in the past by the standards of GM. so it would give them a chance to really build the cars they want to build.

    And where no story is complete without mr Dodenhöffer’s comment: he ‘s always wrong. doesn’t know a **** about the car business

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    A stand alone Opel? That would be quite a challenge to pull off. I predict it would founder.

    Opel sales and market share in Western Europe have been declining precipitously for some years now. I don’t particularly believe that Opel’s losses are from intra-company transfers. The Astra (and previously Kadett) was a perennial #2 in German sales behind Golf. Now it’s #5 and falling. And I don’t see sales success written on the Insignia’s handsome face. Ford’s highly praised new Mondeo is selling weakly. Opel and Ford just don’t have the brand cachet with very brand-image oriented Europeans in the mid-upper price range.

    Keep in mind that all the major Euro manufacturers see the CO regs as a serious challenge, and are investing heavily in hybrid and EV technology. Opel is totally dependent on GM-NA for that.

    Saab is nothing but a badge to slap on re-skinned Opels, (and Trailblazers and Subarus). Saab’s future is much more precarious than Opel’s, even.

    The automotive world keeps changing, and (despite a soft spot in my heart for Opel) I have a hard time seeing much of a future for Opel in it.

  • avatar
    charly

    Opel owned by GM will go down with certainty so going alone has a bigger chance of success. They could work with BMW or Mercedes to develop their CO2 technology and their likely buyer, Russia, isn’t that interested in efficiency for their home market.

  • avatar
    charly

    Opel doesn’t sell the really big cars so they will have less problem in meating the CO2 challenge

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    @Bertel: I still do not like the Hitlerite part. We are discussing here serious business, and this is simply distracting from the real issues.

    Ownership from the states: Lower Saxony had 20% in VW since ages – this you cannot compare. Baden Wuerttemberg may be eying to somehow protect Daimler, but I neither see the funds nor really anyone taking a decision to invest there. And Opel: it was foreign owned since 1929. The states know they cannot run it better than the experts. I believe this is a very defensive move, not more.

    Demant: as long as Opel lives, he as CEO of a GmbH has certainly no troubles. However, once Opel would become insolvent, and he would keep paying GM, he would face serious criminal charges under bankruptcy laws. Also, intercompany dealings must be done on arms lenghts basis, otherwise you participate in tax fraud. I see this as first signs that he tries to make sure he does not run into these problems.

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    Paul Niedermeyer :
    November 15th, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    A stand alone Opel? That would be quite a challenge to pull off. I predict it would founder.

    Keep in mind that all the major Euro manufacturers see the CO regs as a serious challenge, and are investing heavily in hybrid and EV technology. Opel is totally dependent on GM-NA for that.

    It certainly would not be easy. But other companies also work on hybrid and EV technology and should be prepared to share to lower the costs. Even BMW and Daimler have now started cooperating on certain issues. Finally, this is future talk. The Chevy Volt would not make up for a high part of the turnover anyway.

  • avatar
    tom

    @Paul:
    Keep in mind that all the major Euro manufacturers see the CO regs as a serious challenge, and are investing heavily in hybrid and EV technology. Opel is totally dependent on GM-NA for that.

    What many people don’t know: The Volt used to be an Opel. It was a German project that got transferred to America because GM needed a poster child. So the expertise is there. Or think about the Epsilon platform which underpins all the small GM vehicles and which was developed by Opel.

    Having said that, I’m not sure whether an independent Opel could survive either…but it’s chances would definitely be better than within the GM empire.

  • avatar
    charly

    About state ownership. It reminds me of the outrunning the bear joke. The state doesn’t need to run it better than the experts. It needs to run it better than the stock market. And that is something even politicans can aspire too.

    BMW and Daimler are competitors. Opel is more selling to a different market so joining that partnership is a real posibility but i don’t think that Opel partnering with another car company would be surprising

    ps. Opel was nationalized by the nazi’s so it hasn’t been continual been foreign owned since 1929.

  • avatar

    @Charly: GM bought Opel in 1929 – a good investment. Opel was one of Hitler’s largest source of foreign currency. James D. Mooney was close with the Nazis and proud of his Verdienstkreuz des Ordens vom deutschen Adler, pinned on him by Adolf himself. Opel was a busy part of the German war machine, tidy profits reached Detroit until late 1941 – irked the Brits to no end. Opel was nationalized after the USA entered WWII, which – popquiz – was when? Hint: 1942, GM put a zero to Opel’s asset value. There are ample stories that GM continued cahorting with the enemy. Irony of history: Opel helpedthe commies start their “automotive industry:” After the war, the Kadett plant was dragged from Rüsselsheim to Moscow, and Opel’s Kadett (of 1938 vintage) became the first Moksvitch. Despite the imported German engineering, the Russians never became famous for their cars -which should be a warning against too much governmental meddling with the industry.

  • avatar
    50merc

    What is it with these Germans who insist on speaking German?

    Anyway, after I looked up “Heim ins Reich,” I found it’s quite appropriate to use it in the context of this editorial. Sort of like saying Opel will go “back in the fold.” Sure, Hitler used the phrase, but he wasn’t talking about Hesse. After all this time you’d think the Germans would have forgotten about WW II.

    And is there really that much concern over Opel’s future? It should be fine whoever owns it. My impression is that Opel and the other German brands are highly valued by consumers for their prestige and engineering prowess. Even VW owners seem to feel a smug satisfaction that their cars are extraordinary. So German autos and everything else they make should continue to command premium prices, and that should keep Germany a powerhouse, economically and otherwise. So it rankles me that the US still keeps troops there. Europe can defend itself (if it sees a need to do so), and America no longer can afford to pay the bill.

  • avatar
    tom

    @50merc:

    Opel’s state isn’t as rosy as it might seem to be. Your comment sounds a little bit like the grass is always greener on the other side.

    Of course Opel got dragged into a lot of problems by GM, but it speaks volumes that among the German auto makers, Opel is hit hardest by the current economic downturn. People just don’t trust Opel anymore. It’s probably similar to – say – Chevrolet in the States. Opel had horrible reliability figures during the 1990s and early 2000s. Now, they probably have the most attractive line-up in a long time, but it’s hard to win back consumer confidence, once you lost it.

    Also, Opel is a mass market manufacturer, nothing premium there. The only way for Opel to compete with Volkswagen is via price. Their last upper segment models went out of production in 1977 (Kapitän, Admiral, Diplomat), their last middle segment model in 1994 (Senator) [or 2002 if you want to count the Omega]. Anyway, Opel pretty much only produces small compact cars, micro and compact vans and stuff like that. The only exception is the Vectra and its handsome successor, the Insignia, which has actually grown quite a bit. However, the last time Opel tried to sell a “premium” car (Signum) it didn’t work at all…

  • avatar

    @50merc:

    What is it with these Germans who insist on speaking German?

    I know.It must be a genetic defect …

    As for the troops: Don’t fret. US presence in Germany is a shadow of its former glory. My former father in law (bless his soul) was an aide of SACEUR Lemnitzer, so for historical reasons, I’m keeping tabs on the situation. The US barely has enough troops in Germany to defend Ramstein Air Base, and the Landstuhl medical center, both important trans-shipment points for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Usually, troops get rotated to Iraq, and then back home. Current guesses are a mere 30K troops left in Deutschland,which may not be at their bases all the time, but otherwise employed in the Mid-East.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    tom: What many people don’t know: The Volt used to be an Opel. It was a German project that got transferred to America because GM needed a poster child.

    Tom, would you care to document that claim? It certainly goes against everything that I’ve known about the genesis of the Volt.

  • avatar
    tom

    @Paul:
    I’ve read it here:
    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,590557,00.html

    It is in German, but if you search for “Frank Weber”, you’ll find some additional info. Weber was at Opel R&D where the Volt was thought up. Now he and his team have been moved to Detroit, but he’s still leading the Volt development.

    If you look at what GM R&D is actually doing, the only thing they’re actually on the forefront is hydrogen technology.
    Opel on the other hand has to compete in Europe where gas prices are way above those in the US and they’re specialized on small, efficient cars. So they have the expertise in fuel efficient cars more than anyone within GM. Again, just think of the Epsilon platform.

  • avatar

    Thank you, Tom. For the non-Teutonic contingent, here the translation of the pertinent part:

    Der Spiegel: “One strategic department has already been moved to the USA in the beginning of this year: The inventor of the hybrid car Volt comes from Rüsselsheim and his name is Frank Weber. This case is a prime example for the currently very much US-focused politics at GM. The green car is supposed to lift the image of the mother ship, Opel has to wait. The Volt will be introduced in Europe only after it had premiered in the USA. The investments for the four banger that is built into the car to charge its batteries, will be kept by GM in the USA. A factory with approximately 300 jobs is planned for Flint, IL. From the perspective of GM’s HQ, this strategy is consistent. Analysts think that GM has to assuage the US government, so that governmental monies for GM have a chance of approval. Therefore, any surplus capacities will be eliminated in Europe first, and not in the USA.”

    As consistent the DC-centric view may be, Germany has its own perspective. Now, GM comes to Berlin, begging for money. They will have to listen to a lecture regarding the world watched through Berlin’s eyes.

    I climate matters, Berlin is mightily pissed at the US. According to http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=aTYTqcXZf7fE&refer=japan Japan and Europe are looking at a $46b global-warming penalty, because they still are releasing more greenhouse-gas pollution than they agreed to under the Kyoto treaty to curb global warming. The USA, where more than 40% of the cars are SUVs and trucks, didn’t even bother to sign Kyoto, hence no payment. No money, but co-opting the green?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Bertel:

    Well done. Trying to translate the German gave me a few memorable flashbacks to my US Army infantry daze along the border in ’88. Love the WWII history references, too.

    He says, the guarantees are a precaution for the “theoretical case that the financial streams with GM in the USA go dry.” (Translation: When GM gets blown up with a compound commonly known as C7.)

    As I approach my mid 40’s, I think lines like that are better than bad sex.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    tom, I have followed the Volt’s development quite closely. Frank Weber was coaxed to come to Detroit, to head up the development. The article you cited calls Weber the “inventor” of the Volt. That’s a questionable description, but I’ll give them a pass, as long as it’s understood to mean AFTER he came to the US. He was NOT working on/inventing the Volt at Opel.

    The Volt was dreamed up by Lutz brainstorming with with other GM techies after he heard about the Tesla. Opel did not then have an active EV program. But Weber’s earlier expertise with the EV-1 made him the man to bring back to head up the Volt’s development.

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    @Paul

    At least this should make it clear that Opel with its R&D facilities should be viable on its own. They may not have an electric car in their pipeline, but since this would anyway not add much turnover in the near future, there is no serious problem. For the rest: they have been doing the engineering on the European style cars any way, so they are well prepared to be on their own. Who the hell needs GM anyway?

  • avatar
    tom

    Paul: Right, Frank Weber and his team no longer work for Opel. But they did until the beginning of 2008. Until then, the Volt was an Opel project.

  • avatar
    menno

    The year was 1961. Borgward group manufactured Borgward, Lloyd and Goliath autmobiles and was the #4 auto producer in West Germany. Only needed yet another annual bridge-loan backed by the state in which Bremen, their factory, was located.

    Nothing out of the ordinary for a semi-socialist nation which thought nothing of what many Americans are soon to get used to; privatized profits and socialized losses (i.e. given to the taxpayers). In fact, it was not even that severe for Borgward; Borgward paid proper interest on the bridge-loans and kept the stadt from having job losses and huge unemployment expenses.

    Until 1961, when (it is rumored) that certain other automotive executives were unhappy with the recently introduced Borgward Grosser (large) Limousine (sedan) in competition with their um, new Mercedes finback line. So out come the knives, and before you know it, the politicians put out a rumor that Borgward is insolvent, the creditors call in the banks, the bridge-loan is refused, and Borgward winds down, laying off thousands of workers and joins the rest of the dead automotive marques in the dustbin of history.

    I have to wonder if Opel’s days are numbered.

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