Opel: "State Aid? We Don't Need No Stinking State Aid"

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

If you go back for what seems to be years , TTAC never gave Opel big odds for getting state aid. Ever since GM reneged on the Magna deal, their chances were pretty much nil. Since then, the German government had been subjecting Opel to water torture. A few days ago, Berlin made it obvious. They had to, because GM was like a psychiatric patient that was slowly going through all stages of the Kübler-Ross model: Denial (“They said they would help us”), anger (“Maybe this will make your chancellor happy”), bargaining, depression, now finally, acceptance. Today, GM and Opel officially threw in the towel. Opel officially gave up on state aid. They will turn to the entity that supposedly wasn’t allowed to help them: The GM mother-ship. In other words: You and me will pay to save Opel.

Of course, GM didn’t just cry uncle.

Opel said that whole state aid business is just too slow and cumbersome. “Our application was put in more than six months ago, and we followed the process that the governments laid out and asked us to follow. We had no idea it would take this long,” Opel CEQ kvetched in a conference call.

GM and Opel withdraws all applications for state aid, writes Der Spiegel. All of them. Opel and GM had bombarded just about anybody in Europe that had anything to do with Opel with demands for urgent help. Disregard. Cancel. We didn’t mean it. Opel doesn’t want any loan guarantees from the U.K., from Spain, from Poland, from Germany. Smart move: With the German loan guarantees denied, nobody was willing to make a useless contribution anyway.

Amazing: Opel is not changing their restructuring plan. Opel maintains that they need about €3.3b (approx $4b). They also maintain that no other plants than Antwerp will be closed and that no more than 8.300 of the 48.000 jobs in Europe will be lost. “We have no intention to change that plan” said Reilly. Time will tell. But its grist for the mills of Germany’s Economics Minister Brüderle and a host of others who had said that GM can and should do it alone.

No wonder that Brüderle is pleased: “This confirms my initial assessment: GM has the funds to restructure Opel,” said the Minister to Focus. They will need more than the €3.3b. To bring the model portfolio up to speed, €11b ($13.5b) are needed.

There are already the first doubts. Roland Koch, Premier of Hesse, where Opel has its HQ, and his Economics Minister Dieter Posch are already worried: They said the consequences of the decision are not foreseeable. That’s German for “The excrement will hit the fan.”

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3 of 9 comments
  • Alex Hannan Alex Hannan on Jun 17, 2010

    GM should have either spun off this Opel mess or shuttered it. GM's failure to have done either of the above is yet another embarrassing legacy of the bailout era.

    • Charly Charly on Jun 17, 2010

      Opel makes money (at least the cars that GM sells in China make money and they are mostly Opels) so spinning it off wouldn't be wise. But there is a part of GM that doesn't make money, can't be used in the Chinese market and should be spun off (read closed). Sadly with government ownership it isn't likely that that part will be ejected.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on Jun 17, 2010

    Solly to say is becoming a dead Albatross on the neck of Government Motors. One servant cannot serve 2 Masters anyways. Doubt Uncle Sam will go bail out the Euro GM division. Perhaps put more eggs in the Middle Kingdom, or let someone from Middle Kingdom take over them, as they needed to get in EU badly to sell/build cars.

  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??