GM and Opel: Nuclear Option?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
So the GM board met last night to decide on Opel’s fate. Did we say yesterday, “You won’t hear a decision?” You won’t. They couldn’t even bring themselves to a recommendation. “General Motors is taking more time to negotiate with Magna and RHJ International over the planned sale of its European arm Opel,” Reuters reports. Anybody surprised?According to Focus, the board of directors couldn’t decide because no recommendation was presented to the board by GM’s management. The matter turns into trench warfare of World War One proportions: “Nobody wants to give an inch,” says Handelsblatt.Motormouth Ferdinand Dudenhöffer sees the nuclear option as the end of the stalemate. His scenario is published in Das Autohaus: GM wants to hang on to Opel. GM recommends RHJ. The German government says no. The matter drags on until after the German elections. Then, Opel goes into insolvency. GM can close Antwerp, Bochum, Kaiserslautern and Ellesmere Port, washes its hands of other legacy costs. This plan has a familiar ring to it.
Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Menno Menno on Aug 04, 2009

    I strongly suspect that the German government will NOT let GM keep Opel after restructuring/bankruptcy of Opel and sell-off of assets. In fact, Opel may end up as dead as Borgward. (The biggest, newest luxury Borgward Grosser Limousine 2300 did go on to live a very short 2nd life, in Mexico in the late 1960's and the OHV 2300cc inline six engine actually found life in some AMC-Borgward cars sold in Mexico about 15 years later).

  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Aug 04, 2009

    This is all posturing. Come the German elections, we'll see more development on the Vauxhall/Opel situation and it won't be pretty. Whichever government gets in, will pull the plug on Vauxhall/Opel. The bailout is an unpopular decision and in the long run, it'll be bad for business. Vauxhall/Opel will fall, the best bits will be picked off and the European car market may actually benefit from it. What I DON'T understand is why GM, seemingly, wants to pull out of the european market. Vauxhall/Opel are, essentially, their engineering department. Without them, GM have very little. Also, they'll lose a lot of revenue from Europe. So, what's in it for GM....?

  • Menno Menno on Aug 04, 2009

    Hi Katie, I don't think GM wanted to lose Opel. But sh*t happens when you run out of money, eh? I suspect GM thinks they can use GMDaewoo to develop new cars. Perhaps they are "pretty good cars" but what GM needs are "EXCELLENT cars". Vauxhall may end on the scrap heap of history along with Opel. Interestingly, the last Vauxhall engineered mostly in the UK was the Victor FE which I mentioned elsewhere in the Vega / curbside classic clue stream. This car came out in 1972 (The Vauxhall, I mean). So GM has been moving engineering towards Opel at the expense of other engineering centres since 1972 or before.

  • Skor Skor on Aug 04, 2009

    Was that picture taken in Bosnia? Did the bones inside the trunk, and back seat, turn out to be Serb, Croat or Muslim?