Opel: The Russians Are Coming!
Ah, the suspense of a spaghetti western: Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press and sales chief Steve Landry told U.S. dealers on a conference call to hold their breath until they turn blue because “the automaker expected talks aimed at clinching an alliance with Italy’s Fiat to run all the way to an April 30 government-imposed deadline,” says Reuters.
In the meantime, Fiat’s bid for Opel is running into a phalanx of counter-fire and looks deader by the minute. According to Das Autohaus, the powerful metal workers union is “strictly against” Fiat. Also the Opel dealers are not enthused: “We want a strong partner for Opel, and that’s not Fiat” said Thomas Bieling of the Opel Dealer Council. Opel Supervisory board member Schild has compared Opel and Fiat to “two sick parents” who would not create a viable ensemble.
EU Industry Commissioner Guenther Verheugen told Bayerischer Rundfunk radio that he’s surprised that a “highly indebted” Fiat would show interest in Opel, saying Fiat “isn’t exactly the European carmaker that’s best off.”
Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne spat back, saying that Verheugen’s comments weren’t helpful or supportive for the future of the car industry. In contratto, Verheugen was “issuing death sentences for the industry or unilaterally selecting who will survive,” Marchionne complained to the Wall Street Journal. Marchionne found little sympathy.
Even Hesse’s premier Klaus Koch, ever the politician, now has “grave concerns” about Fiat and Opel. Fiat has similar problems as Opel, both have to scale down, and Koch doesn’t want the scaling to happen in his backyard and on his watch. According to Automobilwoche [sub], Koch now champions Magna-Steyr, the Canadian-Austrian parts and contract manufacturer.
Magna has another partner who might be interested in the latest technology: Russia’s Gaz, formerly known for their atmosphere-murdering Gaz jeeps, which even the Chinese have banned from their streets. Gaz also made the T70 light tank in WW2. Funny twist of history: GAZ started in 1929 as NNAZ, a cooperation between Ford and the Soviet Union.
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"In the meantime, Fiat’s bid for Opel is running into a phalanx of counter-fire and looks deader by the minute. According to Das Autohaus, the powerful metal workers union is “strictly against” Fiat. Also the Opel dealers are not enthused: “We want a strong partner for Opel, and that’s not Fiat” " I could see this coming. The Germans think it is beneath them to be rescued by the Italians. Opel wants to be rescued by another German company or Berlin. That's why Dumbler could never have really merged with Chrysler. What, and treat those Americans like equals? Can't wait for Mercedes turn.