By on March 13, 2009

Yesterday, we mentioned that GM Europe Chief, Carl-Peter Forster, must have missed his daily dose of Prozac. He had sounded a bit depressed when he said that there were “interested parties but no formal talks” in regards to a partial sale of Opel. Today it turns out that this was the understatement of the week. Opel is the wallflower of the industry. One by one, those alleged “interested parties” hold their nose and say a muffled “no thanks.”  The German Autohaus chronicles the list of rebuffs:

BMW and Daimler had said quite a while ago that they are not interested. There was some talk about Opel selling their Eisenach plant to Daimler. But last week, Daimler’s Zetsche spiked the rumor. In the last few days, Opel received a “no” from France’s PSA Peugeot Citroën, India’s Tata and Chinese automakers Geely and Chery.

Tata spokesperson Debasis Ray said to Die Welt: “We have all the production capacities we need.” A PSA speaker said: “Opel is not on our agenda.” BMW reiterated their disinterest: “We need no additional capacities in Europe.”

As mentioned on TTAC, approximately half of the current worldwide automotive production capacities lie fallow. Nobody needs a wallflower. Instead of a wedding, there will be a thorough weeding.

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13 Comments on “Opel Is A Wallflower...”


  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    If Vauxhall/Opel were to sort out the intellectual property problem (apparently, the technology is actually owned by an organisation called “GTO” and not Vauxhall/Opel?) then I’m surprised there aren’t more takers for Vauxhall/Opel.

    They have an established presence in Europe and around the world. What emerging car maker wouldn’t want a piece of that?

    In fact, GM, should have packaged Saturn and SAAB together with Vauxhall/Opel. That way, they can sell a mini company with a presence around the world and the technologies being inextricably linked (Saturn, SAAB and Vauxhall/Opel all share the same underpinnings and parts).

    Is what’s really turning buyers off Vauxhall/Opel is the fact that 50% of the company will still be owned by GM? If that’s the case, there’s not a lot of faith in GM.

  • avatar

    Forster has already mumbled that they may retain less than 50%. But apparently, GM is making such a mess of it that governments and buyers are losing interest. It’s not that there is a shortage of automakers.

  • avatar
    Roundel

    I’m still confused as to why both Daimler and BMW didn’t want Opel.
    They could have easily morphed the brand into a bargain brand that could compete with the like Of Dacia, Fiat etc.
    While its much easier to get a more affordable Bimmer or Benz across the pond, they are still up there in price.

  • avatar
    tom

    AFAIK, GM has issued a statement that a potential buyer of Opel would get the patents as well. How they’d do it is still a mystery though, since they’re used as collateral for the bail-out.

    Anyway, even with the patents, Opel isn’t very attractive. The brand just isn’t strong enough to weather the storm. Opel has lost a lot of trust over the last decades and it takes years to win it back, years they don’t have.

    Up to the 1980s, Opel was on par with Volkswagen in Europe. Since then, they’ve lost 50% of their market share.

    While the Chinese car makers might be interested in the patents, they surely don’t want the baggage of a failing brand.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Rick’s reign of terror and incompetence knows no end.

    You can’t blame the UAW for Opel’s cratered market share.

  • avatar
    montgomery burns

    Just to clear up the patents issue: The IP of Opel is owned by a GM subsidiary, GM GTO in the US. Opel pays a royalty on every car produced to GM GTO. I don’t know anything about German tax law but would guess that the royalty become a cost of doing business avoiding the German tax liability. That income then disappears into the mothership because GM NA doesn’t make a profit and hasn’t for a long time.

  • avatar
    menno

    OK let’s be brutally honest here.

    Why on earth would the Chinese be interested in actually PAYING for intellectual property (patent information) when nobody is holding them to account when they quite freely STEAL it and use it, now?

    Opel is finito. Kaput. LeMorte.

  • avatar

    Just to clear up the patents issue: The IP of Opel is owned by a GM subsidiary, GM GTO in the US. Opel pays a royalty on every car produced to GM GTO. I don’t know anything about German tax law but would guess that the royalty become a cost of doing business avoiding the German tax liability. That income then disappears into the mothership because GM NA doesn’t make a profit and hasn’t for a long time.

    That (and management fees, and overpriced parts, and consulting services) has been a favorite tax avoidance strategy for ages.

  • avatar
    njoneer

    You can’t blame the UAW for Opel’s cratered market share.

    I heard Germany has the highest labor costs of any country. And 4 day work weeks. And extended summer holidays. Why would anyone want to buy Opel’s factories?

  • avatar
    tom

    I heard Germany has the highest labor costs of any country. And 4 day work weeks. And extended summer holidays. Why would anyone want to buy Opel’s factories?

    Well, that’s not true. Volkswagen had 4 day work weeks for some time, but then again, VW has always been special, because the state government was in charge of things and obviously they didn’t want to fire anybody, so they reduced work hours instead.

    Apart from that, labor costs have traditionally been rather high in Germany, but again, that has somewhat changed over the last couple of years (they’re still high, but not higher than in other developed countries). The biggest obstacle has been health care and social security costs, but the way things are going now, GM would wish they had those conditions in the US…turns out it’s still cheaper and safer than US legacy costs in the long run.

    As for vacation, the standard in Germany is 30 days per year, although it can be less. But I think this is also rather common throughout Europe.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Frankly, Opel will limp right along. Nobody is buying it. And GM doesn’t really want to leave Europe. So as capt. Rick might say, “steady as she sinks!”.

    Really, they can’t compete w/ Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, Ford, assorted Asians in the small car market. Midsize has been taken from them by the likes of VW, Ford, Renault and assorted Japanese. Full-size has been killed by down-market Mercedes and BMWs. What’s left for them?

    Red ink a plenty.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    If only Opel could make up for its pudgyness with a skimpy dress and high heels.

  • avatar
    Dave

    Why pay for Opel now when in a few weeks anyone will be able to get it for a few pennies, sorry €urocents.

    Their share in Europe is falling because the few customers out there ain’t stupoid…. when Mandelson (UK Business Minister) talks about “Vauxhall is in crisis”, people hear and remember.


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