EU to GM: "Deliver That Letter, The Sooner The Better"

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Another day, another Opel that is still not sold yet. As reported before, EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes made good on her previous threats (which were ignored in wholesale fashion) and said that the €4.5b ($6.72b) in – mostly German – state aid for Opel may be against EU rules. So what now? One option seems to take Opel into insolvency. But there’s another way to fix it: GM needs to certify that the Opel/Magna/Sperbank deal came together “without political pressure.” So says the German car dealer’s favorite read, Das Autohaus. If Brussels gets such a letter, then the qualms they have about possible anti-competitive behavior will just go away. It’s that easy?

Sure is. But Nellie just handed GM another instrument of torture. GM could have written “Dear Nellie: We have never been under pressure, political or otherwise, to do the Opel/Magna deal. Who do you think we are? A lemon? We did it all on our own volition. Anything you have read about Germany giving their money only to a Magna deal is pure fabrication. By the way, Putin is a swell guy. Sincerely, Fritz Henderson”

Did GM write that letter? Noooooo. Instead, they invited Magna for a new round of arm-twisting. No letter, no deal. The postage on that thing will be quite costly.

Even if the Nellie Kroes finds that letter in her mailbox, the deal is far from done. The unions want a bigger slice of the pie. To get it, they do what they know best: They won’t come to work. The Spanish union CCOO reported that there will be a strike in Zaragoza on October 28, October 30, November 3 and 5 – unless Magna caves in. Let’s hope that Ms. Kroes doesn’t require a letter from Magna that there was no pressure whatsoever from anybody.

Kids, the longer this drags on, the more it will become clear that nobody really needs Opel. Europe would be just fine without it. Liposucking a little capacity from the obese car manufacturing sector wouldn’t hurt either. I’d know a car company or two in China who would love to adopt that baby.

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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  • Twitchykun Twitchykun on Oct 21, 2009

    Without "political pressure", Mr. Schmitt? That's about as likely as Porsche making a pickup truck.

  • Akitadog Akitadog on Oct 21, 2009

    "I’d know a car company or two in China who would love to adopt that baby." That's funny, usually it's Americans adopting unwanted babies from China.

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo V-6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.