By on February 25, 2017


Apparently, the tidy sale of General Motors’ European division to French automaker PSA Group isn’t so clean-cut after all.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, PSA is looking to secure more than just the Opel and Vauxhall brands. It also wants a key bit of gear — one that would make the new European alliance market leaders in electric vehicle technology.

GM isn’t willing to let it go without a host of conditions.

Der Spiegel reports that PSA is particularly interested in the Opel Amera-e, the European version of the Chevrolet Bolt. The vehicles’ patents are a key stumbling block in negotiations between GM and PSA.

The American automaker is quite proud of its affordable, long-range EV. Naturally, it’s not willing to let Opel’s potential buyer have the technology out of the goodness of its heart. GM has reportedly said it will license the patents for certain models, including the Ampera-e, only if PSA keeps the vehicles out of North America, Russia and China.

Because PSA’s long-range plans may include a return to the North American market, the clause means that any vehicle sent stateside would have to contain absolutely no GM intellectual property. PSA’s CEO, Carlos Tavares, has said that Opel may be sold outside of Europe in the future. As well, PSA is weighing whether its French brands — Citroën, Peugeot, and especially DS — could appear in the U.S.

Another hitch in the negotiations involves the GM division’s threadbare pension fund. Bloomberg reports that the retirement plan is underfunded to the tune of $9 billion. According to sources close to the negotiations, PSA would love for GM to shoulder a sizable part of that financial burden. GM, which hopes to rid itself of an unprofitable division through this sale, doesn’t seem interested in picking up that tab.

[Image: Opel]

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33 Comments on “PSA Wants GM’s Chevy Bolt Technology; GM Throws Up Conditions...”

  • avatar

    “PSA would love for GM to shoulder a sizable part of that financial burden”

    Eewww.. marriage with pre-existing children.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    The sale price is reported as $2 billion and the underfunded pension liability is $9 billion so the net worth of Opel is negative $7 billion. Why don’t they just bankrupt the thing? Give the $2 billion to the pension fund and say auf Wiedersehen Europa!

    Did the last GM bankruptcy not wipe out the underfunded pensions?

  • avatar

    A few years ago, GM sold Saab to Dutch automaker (I’m being generous here…) Spyker. When Spyker got into financial trouble, it tried to offload Saab to the Chinese (specifically, to some companies named Pang-Da and Youngman), but GM insisted that Saab not be sold to the Chinese, threatening that it would not license its IP (on which Saab’s entire lineup at the time was based) to a new Chinese owner.

    Fast forward a few years, and GM is trying to sell its other European division, Opel. This time, an ostensibly French automaker is the potential buyer. The problem is, a Chinese automaker is a significant owner of said French automaker, and since the French automaker was on its last legs just a few years ago, it’s not likely to have the financial muscles required to purchase another automaker at this point. So where is the money for a purchase of Opel coming from? China, most likely.

    So I think what we have here is an attempt by a Chinese automaker to purchase an European automaker by hiding behind another European automaker which it already partially owns. And GM, still not eager to sell technology or brands to the Chinese (since it would then end up competing with GM-derived products made by a Chinese automaker in the Chinese market), is getting cold feet.

    • 0 avatar

      What a convoluted mess.

      Glad its not my problem. At least, not this particular problem. China on the whole, I believe, is a growing problem (threat?).

      I would like to see PSA here, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting something that has Chinese money behind it (be it a product made there or a company its invested in), but who knows?

      There is a lot more than just cars at stake.

    • 0 avatar

      “So where is the money for a purchase of Opel coming from? China, most likely.”

      French gov’t bailout money

  • avatar

    IMO the future lies somewhere in your standard ev platform with autonomous technology. The body being a 3D print of any classic. Think Gattaca.

  • avatar

    This deal is getting worse all the time.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    1. GM should have thought of this problem before producing the Ampera-e.

    2. PSA must have a death wish – buying Opel with negative $7 billion equity, plus considering a return to the US. They wouldn’t stand a chance in the US market.

    • 0 avatar

      1) is not GM’s problem. The tech is theirs regardless of the sale. If they and PSA can’t come to an agreement then that just means PSA gets no Ampera-e for Opel.

  • avatar

    This Merger is starting to remind me of the First Fiat/Chrysler Merger attempt in 1991. Everything was looking rosy until Fiat realized Chrysler owed a ton in pension obligations.

  • avatar

    What this really is an indication of is exactly how good the VOLTEC technology is.

    • 0 avatar

      The Bolt isn’t Voltec. Its components are from LG. Although, Voltec is pretty good.

  • avatar

    The Bolt is not even GM technology. It was engineered in South Korea by what was once Daewoo.

    Worthless GM has nothing to offer PSA.

    GM sucks!

  • avatar

    If I were CEO of GM (face it, almost anyone here would do a better job even though Barra has been the best they’ve had for a while now), I would trade a license for the Voltec technology in exchange for licensing Peugeot’s current and next-generation C and D-segment front-wheel drive platforms for future GM models with the option to build them at Peugeot’s plants for the European market along with possible exports. Win-win.

    The best GM Detroit could do with FWD was the W-body which wasn’t even that good for 1988. Not to mention the Delta and Sigma were decent but are expensive to make. GM Korea and Holden (for the two usual suspects, Holden saving GM is as plausible as me solving my finances by marrying Taylor Swift) couldn’t even do anything FWD without the help of Opel. And even when GM Korea was Daewoo, they never were as good as Hyundai ever was at designing a car even when Hyundai was at their worst, so they are screwed if they can’t find a FWD specialist to partner with or acquire. Speaking of Hyundai, they need SUVs and GM needs FWD, don’t get me started….

    What I hate about GM is they are still a fiefdom of divisions that fight over resources, an ongoing disaster when Alan Mulally realized that early then forced Ford to become a global company and even Sergio had no choice but to let Chrysler and FIAT take what they need from each other lest their precarious situation becomes even worse.

    • 0 avatar

      “(face it, almost anyone here would do a better job ”

      I love Internet Arrogance.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not easy, but I think we’ve found the most useless poster on this site in JimZ. I haven’t seen you post anything of substance, you’re just a loser with an anger problem, throwing passive-aggressive tantrums whenever someone posts an opinion or analysis you disagree with.

        Seriously, go get help.

    • 0 avatar

      AFAICT, eyefly hasn’t driven a GM product for quite a while. Referencing the early W-body is out of date, when it’s been superseded by the Epsilon I & II, for several years now. Actually, referencing all of the older bodies (Delta and Sigma) places them back in time.

      If we remember back to the Great Financial Crisis, there were legion of commentators suggesting GM act more like Toyota. To that end, they did. They’ve engineered probably some of the best cars in their recent history, along with the Voltec hybrid system and now the Bolt. All of their cars are emissions and mileage compliant and even many of the hi-po motors do their work on regular unleaded fuel. I’m *far* from being an engineer, but I can appreciate what has taken place since the BK. On top of it all, they mostly make money for the corporation.

      I love when people pull out the Daewoo canard; like Hyundai. Kia and Ssangyong can apparently move forward, but somehow GMK is stuck in MY2000 forever. Engineers are engineers and GM has plenty worldwide. It’s been proven that the Cruze is a decent car and others that are GMK engineered are not too far behind.

      I will hate to see GM lose Opel, but I understand that they are motivated to make cars and profits; I think the folks in the Ren Cen have learned their lesson. However, like making sausage, no one wants to see what it takes to make it. GM losing Opel is part of that.

      Auf Wiedersehen, Opel…

      • 0 avatar

        >> If we remember back to the Great Financial Crisis, there were legion of commentators suggesting GM act more like Toyota. To that end, they did. They’ve engineered probably some of the best cars in their recent history <<

        This! I'm not a GM fan but they are putting out some impressive hardware and while I'm not in love with the '69 Camaro look and it suffers from the alpha curse the current gen Camaro especially in 1LE and ZL1 1LE form are damn impressive. I cant think of another car for 62k that even touches on what the 6th ZL1 can do.

        If I weren't a Mustang nutswinger I'd have a very hard time justifying both the GT350 and GT350R price tags (I'm going to guess that the ZL1 1LE is going to just cost a bit more than the GT350R so 66k) when you can stop by the General's lot and pick up a monster like that for the same money.

    • 0 avatar

      I see a way out of this; GM simply makes everything RWD. Think of how many GM vehicles would get far more interesting overnight were they RWD. I realize there’s a 0% of this happening but it’d be cool.

      Besides, if GM were to partner with anyone for FWD platforms I’d much rather they court Honda than Hyundai.

  • avatar

    “Bolt move, Barra”… But this is destined to go wrong. At a certain point it will be more beneficial for PSA to see Opel slowly wither away and work together with another brand (Tesla?) on the EV subject.

  • avatar

    The last time PSA gobbled up a manufacturer from a US manufacturer was the late 70s with Chrysler Europe.

    They couldn’t use the Chrysler name, so they dug up an old Talbot name.

    The old fashioned RWD Sunbeam subcompact was replaced with a Peugeot based Samba, the Horizon (as sold in the US as a Plymouth) soldiered on for a while, as did the Alpine/Solara midsize sedan and hatch. The Tagora was to be based on a large Chrysler platform, ended up based on a Peugeot platform which left it with a strangely narrow track between the wheels on either side. The brand was axed soon after, surviving til the 90s only on commercial vehicles (a rebadged Fiat Ducato aka Ram Promaster – as we know Fiat later owned Chrysler).
    The Horizon replacement became the 309 hatchback, which started the moderately successful 306->308 lineage. The Citroen AX based Samba replacement never saw the light of day, the Alpine/Solara were axed to make way for the 405 and the unsuccessful Tagora was quietly dropped.

    PSA tried to tie up with Mitsubishi – whom they had an SUV relationship with – recently for an EV, licencing the i-Miev. However it wasn’t overly successful.

    They may look to Vauxhall-Opel for the 508 replacement based on the new Insignia, midsize sedan sales are falling – it makes sense for a lot of platform sharing in the shrinking market. This model could also be key to negotiations – it is due to be the next Holden Commodore and potentially the Buick Regal.

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