German Chancellor: Opel Not Crucial To German Economy

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
german chancellor opel not crucial to german economy

The German government doesn’t seem to be in an awful hurry to bail out Opel. First, Berlin bitched about the quality of GM Europe’s rescue plan which was submitted last month. According to that plan, the German unit, along with its UK-based Vauxhall unit, would be partly spun off. Along with that, state aid to the tune of €3.3B ($4.2B) was requested. Berlin said the plan was interesting but mostly fluff. They demanded another one; it hasn’t arrived. No plan, no money.

And just in case a better plan would be forthcoming, Chancellor Angela Merkel set the bar a bit higher. “Before we decide (on aid), we must know important decisions in the United States; for example, how things proceed with Opel’s parent company General Motors, what independence General Motors can give Opel, what happens with Opel patents,” Merkel said, according to Reuters. That’s a whole bunch of important decisions to be taken before any money is being given.

For starters, German government help for Opel is now dependent on decisions the U.S. administration has yet to make. Just in case that would happen any time soon, GM would have to cut Opel loose and fork over the patents. Barring that, no money.

“We will support companies like Opel if our help can secure a good future for these businesses and not just go up in smoke without taking any effect,” Merkel told newspaper Bild.

The longer this drags on, the more the enthusiasm to bail out Opel abates. Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told students in Bonn he would be “very reserved” with regard to state aid for Opel. Chancellor Angela Merkel told fellow Christian Democrats that Opel “is not systemically crucial to the German economy,” a party official told Reuters.

Today, GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster had to state, on the German radio station Deutschlandfunk, that Opel is not insolvent. However, GM might reduce its stake in Opel to a minority and some parties have already said they are interested in the German carmaker, even though details of the plan to save it are undecided and have to be approved by the US government, he said. Frau Merkel probably liked to hear that. Again, a decision that doesn’t have to be made.

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  • Threeer Threeer on Mar 12, 2009

    As I've stated before, from a personal standpoint, seeing Opel go away would be sad, indeed. And if I'm not mistaken, both the Astra AND Vue are Opel (well, the Vue by way of the Orient, but still). My family owned many an Opel in our past, so there is an emotional tie to the brand. Too bad that they're hanging on to a very small, thin line...

  • Menno Menno on Mar 12, 2009

    I'd say that Opel will go the way of Borgward, Lloyd, Hansa, Goliath, Goggomobil, DKW, Auto Union, NSU and Glas very shortly. Actually, probably more along the lines of Borgward/Lloyd/Hansa/Goliath - "kaput". Rather than like NSU, DKW and Auto Union which morphed into Audi and Glas-Goggomibil which was bought up by BMW.

  • Jeff S Years ago Kentucky issued a license plate with a horse running with the words "Unbridled Spirit." The religious right objected and did not want the plate because they believed it encouraged people to go to the race track and bet on horses. Anyone who knows anything about Kentucky knows its famous for raising horses and yes there is Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run but horses in themselves are not sinful. It got so bad that the state issued a blank sticker to put over the horse and the logo. Kentucky also issued a plate for those who were offended stating "In God We Trust." The latest KY plate has no logo and nothing. I always picked the horse because I thought horses were something to be proud of and associated with Kentucky.
  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.