By on July 12, 2012

The Opel mess claims another victim. “Opel’s Karl-Friedrich Stracke stepped down from his position as chief executive of the embattled carmaker to take on “special assignments”, where he will report to the Chairman and CEO of parent General Motors,” Reuters says.

“GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, currently Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, will serve as acting head of GM’s European operations as the company searches for a replacement. The supervisory board of Adam Opel AG will be convened soon to appoint an interim chairman of the management board,”  GM says in a statement.

That “special assignment” job usually means that the man keeps office, secretary, car and face. Engineer Stracke is a GM lifer. His assignment to rescue Opel was widely seen as a mission impossible.

Analysts interviewed by Reuters say that “GM appeared to be panicking as the change comes so soon after a turnaround plan for the struggling Opel was approved and a replacement was not named. ”

“The timing of today’s announcement bodes poorly for the condition of GM’s European business,” Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold said in a research note.

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17 Comments on “Opel: Stracke Out, Girsky In, GM In Panic...”

  • avatar

    I am curious about why so much hammering with the Opel “mess”. The “mess” of Opel is probably similar to the mess of most European operations of all other volume carmakers, including Renault, PSA, VW…etc., if you could look at their European results in an isolated manner…All of them losing money like hell!! The only difference is that the others do not seggregate the European results.

    • 0 avatar

      The Opel mess is the same mess PSA is in. They both suffer from a markeingt restricting them mainly to Europe. There is no business worth to mention in China, in the US, for these brands.
      VW seems to be in a different position. Their ailing brand is SEAT (for years). But even Skoda (which does not have a big export business outside of Europe) is doing well. BTW: look at the prices VW is asking and getting in European markets. They don’t suffer.
      Renault is different too, as they are making money worldwide via their competitive Dacia brand, that recycles outdated technology.
      So, some companies on the European market are doing quite well, although this is anything but a growth market.

    • 0 avatar

      You must be new here. The site caters to folks wanting to see GM six feet under, so their beloved Japanese overlords can take over the world. They come here for their daily fix of GM death watch to make themselves feel better about their miserable existence. The news sources and the analyst opinions are cherry picked. You will not read here about Toyota losing 3 or 4 times as much in Japan every year compared to Opel.

      Toyota Japan financial results

      FY2009 – Yen 237.5B loss ($2.96B Loss)
      FY2010 – Yen 225.2B loss ($2.81B Loss)
      FY2011 – Yen 362.4B loss ($4.55B Loss)
      FY2012 – Yen 207.0B loss ($2.58B Loss)

      $13B lost in the last 4 years, compared to $4B? lost by Opel in the same period. So, which is a bigger “Mess” now?

      GM has a way out of European losses. They are waiting for labor contracts to expire to bring the house down on unions. Toyota has no way out nor will they layoff anyone to stem the bleed. You will not read here about Toyota losing money on all exports to the US and EU due the strong Yen which needs to fall to 85 to the dollar for exports to be profitable. So yeah, every prius, every scion, yaris, 4runner and others excepting a few lexuses are sold at a loss. You will also not read here about Toyota losing $450 million a year for every one yen rise against the dollar. Google is your friend if u think I am making anything up.

      • 0 avatar


        There’s a difference here. You won’t hear Toyota wailing and screaming in the news about how they have to turn the Japanese division around, and how they’re losing patience, and how they’re blaming the locals for an unbroken, 30-year string of their own insultingly stupid, piss-poor decisions.

        Unlike GM, Toyota does not excel at running its own subsidiaries into the ground and then wondering publicly why brand values have tanked. Unlike GM, Toyota does not hammer it into the heads of every potential customer in the world that the brand you’re about to buy is only minutes away from bankruptcy. Unlike GM, Toyota doesn’t send one executive after another to take care of the business, only to publicly shoot down every proposal they make.

        And unlike GM, Toyota did not have the exact same market share as Volkswagen in Europe twenty-five years ago, only to piss it all away.

  • avatar

    Just like Tom Stephens in the U.S., prior to “retirement.”
    Oh, these poor, overpaid GM execs. Schooled only inside GM. Totally unprepared for the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Detroit-X – Many GM execs leave for high level positions in other businesses. They, unlike those here on TTAC, understand the real world and are valued catches by other businesses.

  • avatar

    Good luck, Mr. Girsky. ;-]

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Engineer Stracke is a GM lifer.”

    Like, life without parole?

    • 0 avatar

      Probably convicted for the Opel 54-Degree V6 engine fiasco, and rightly so.

      From Wikipedia:
      “In its 3.0 L form, this engine was notable for recalls of all units installed in Cadillac Cateras due to timing belt tensioner bearing failures, which could cause catastrophic damage to the engine because of its interference design.”

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-cars-later- You might add that GM conducted a Customer Satisfaction Recall to replace those bearings with an improved design, at no cost to customers, as well as extending warranty coverage for any failures to 100,000 miles.

        That engine was certainly not a bright spot in GM, but ALL european quality general lags far behind the US.

      • 0 avatar

        I wasn’t aware there was a recall, props to RenCen I suppose but regardless the 3.0L from what I have read wasn’t anything to write home about when it did work. Shame too because although I certainly wasn’t in a position to purchase one when it came out (I was a hs sophomore) I really liked the lines of the Caddy that zigged. In hindsight it looked like another half baked idea and possible reuse Opel plant capacity production exercise.

  • avatar

    I’ve known Steve for decades — he’s just what GM Europe needs.

  • avatar

    GM is an insolvent mess that owes the taxpayers out the wazoo. Why did it buy another insolvent mess in Europe?

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