Mary Barra Tries to Calm German, British Fears After PSA-Opel Freakout

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mary barra tries to calm german british fears after psa opel freakout

After yesterday’s shocking news of a potential takeover of GM-owned Opel and Vauxhall by France’s PSA Group, General Motors CEO Mary Barra hopped on a plane to the Fatherland.

Given the sudden uncertainty surrounding a major employer, Opel’s works council, labor union and the German government staged a Reuters, Barra appeared at Opel’s Rüsselsheim, Germany headquarters today. PSA CEO Carlos Tavares is reportedly planning a meeting with German officials, possibly including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Yesterday’s freakout was not unwarranted. The GM-PSA discussions, now apparently at an advanced stage, were unknown to the German government and nearly the entirety of Opel’s workforce. Perturbed, the country’s economy minister called it “unacceptable” that it wasn’t informed of the high-level talks.

Rushing to get in front of the issue, the government is now in talks “at all levels” with GM, PSA and Opel, labor minister Andrea Nahles said today. Opel employs about 19,000 workers at three plants in that country, and the same amount at plants in Spain, Austria, Poland Hungary and the UK. Vauxhall employs around 4,500 workers in its two British plants.

Across the Channel, tensions are running high over the possibility of lost jobs. Britain’s Department for Business claims it is in close communication with GM over the issue, and Vauxhall’s labor boss wants a promise to preserve the brand’s workforce.

“I will also be seeking urgent conversations with the (UK) government because everything must be done to secure our world-class automotive industry,” Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union representing Vauxhall workers, told Automotive News Europe.

Despite its success in boosting revenues and streamlining operations at its domestic operation, GM hasn’t been able to bring its European divisions to profitability.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Feb 15, 2017

    I guess I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If PSA, or anyone, bought Opel, I'm sure they would inherit the same arrangements GM had. PSA is part owned by the French govt. France and Germany are the core of the EU (which has rewarded German industry at the expense of everyone else, especially southern Europe, which is shackled by the Euro and forced to buy German goods). I'm surprised GM would consider it--but if PSA made the first move, why not? PSA may see value in the vaunted German industrial enterprise called Opel that GM can't seem to tap into. As an American, I find it quite depressing to drive an Astra diesel RENTAL for a week on vacation in Europe, and then look forward to driving a new Cruze hatchback, an LT mind you, only to be disappointed by how poorly it compared to the Opel version of the same car. If GM can't/won't give us Americans the benefit of having Opel, and if Opel loses hundreds of millions year after year, give it to the French. How having a French owner is worse than a US owner for Opel and the Germans, I do not understand.

    • See 6 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 15, 2017

      @28-Cars-Later Keep digging. "Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again." The fix was in for nearly the entire Twentieth Century, only a few things seemed to not be taken into account.

  • Samuelmorse Samuelmorse on Feb 16, 2017

    Unfortunately, there are not top executives with strategic vision and sound international experience in GM today. If Opel has been losing money consecutively for eighteen years, what they need to do is to find a strong and seasoned leader to fix it rather than resorting to the easiest solution of selling out their problem. Exiting a huge market as Europe has an almost impossible turning back and probably a negative fallout in other regions where GM is present today, specially those which rely upon Opel technical support.

  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.