Deep Dive: General Motors considers selling Opel to Chinese

#Opel, #Opel

While this scenario would be profitable for GM in the short and mid-term, it would come as a shock to Germany and its role as the home of the world's best cars. When the Chinese aspirations leaked about three weeks ago, Angela Merkel reportedly contacted Volkswagen Group chairman Martin Winterkorn -- whom she has learned to like and trust in the course of several future mobility summits. Perceiving the Opel issue as a key matter of national interest, she is believed to be investigating the conditions under which VW might be willing to step in and assist. It should be interesting to see where they all stand when a Chinese delegation tours Germany in late June.

Predictably, VW was not exactly fire and flames when the first rumors filtered through to Wolfsburg. After all, the last thing Europe's leading player needs is one more brand, let alone an additional competitor in the volume segment. Even more to the point, VW no longer wants to be seen as an aggressive predator with a habit of polishing off ailing automakers. True, Ferdinand Piech would still like to buy the odd complementary asset such as Alfa-Romeo - but surely not Opel, which has for decades been Volkswagen's arch-rival. But now management is considering the option. Comments a senior manager who must remain nameless:

"Our initial response was 'no way.' We thought we cannot handle this. But then we thought again, along the lines of making the best of it. We could for instance position Skoda against Hyundai, Seat to fight Kia, and Opel to challenge Toyota. This would take the VW brand out of the line of fire and open up new opportunities. Of course, we still want to be number one by 2018. Wouldn't it be ironic if GM helped us to get there a little earlier by relinquishing Opel and watching us turn it from a liability to an asset?"

For the time being, however, VW is not keen to get involved - despite having a 20 billion Euro cash reserve and a brand new modular components set Opel would probably die for. VW does have plenty of experience in multi-brand handling, and with a little help from the corporate production wizards, those slow-moving Opel assembly lines could be sped up quite easily. The only real worry is the Ruesselsheim Tech Centre, where several thousand layoffs would likely be inevitable.

kego53
What will GM build Buicks off of in the future if they sell Opel? Chevy and Cadillac probably have more Opel content in them than GM would like to admit also. Looks like selling the goose that laid the golden egg, hoping to throw dust into the eyes of consumers with the intent to conceal the origins of their most successful models. Whatever, this is true to form GM modus operandi.
Observer0
"Holden is the de facto Australian Opel."@Speed 3. Just for the records: This simply is wrong. The only remaining Holden, which is derived from Opel is the aging Combo. Just see Holden's website.
Observer0
I am citing a recent report from the Detroit News: "Akerson said GM is making progress in turning around its troubled European unit, which lost $1.8 billion last year. The company broke even in Europe in the first quarter before one-time charges. He described Europe as no longer the "abyss we were looking into" 18 to 24 months ago."To me this does not sound at all like an intended sale of Opel. Why should GM sell Opel just now, after it's gaining traction, after 7 months of consecutive market-share growth in Europe and investing billions for its restructuring??? Furthermore, I hardly do believe that the German antitrust authority would approve Opel's takeover by VW. Sorry, but this entire report is nothing but pure non-sense to me! I guess these rumors were launched intentionally by German media and an Opel competitor in the background (if not VW itself) in order to damage Opel's reputation, i.e. to hurt its growing success.
Speed_3
Wow so GM may really sell Opel. The relationship has always been Opel gives and GM takes, so its not surprising that GM is ready to dump Opel when it has no more to give. In terms of strategy, this will really decimate GM's presence in Europe; I doubt Chevrolet and Cadillac will make up the volume of Opel anytime soon. Also, what does this mean for Buick and Holden? Holden is the de facto Australian Opel. I always thought that a Chevy--Buick/Opel/Holden/Vauxhall--Cadillac strategy would have worked well globally. It looked like that is where GM was going was creating a global entry-level luxury brand which changed name with continent. Oh well. Lets hope GM knows what its doing (I doubt it).
Speed_3
Wow so GM may really sell Opel. The relationship has always been Opel gives and GM takes, so its not surprising that GM is ready to dump Opel when it has no more to give. In terms of strategy, this will really decimate GM's presence in Europe; I doubt Chevrolet and Cadillac will make up the volume of Opel anytime soon. Also, what does this mean for Buick and Holden? Holden is the de facto Australian Opel. I always thought that a Chevy--Buick/Opel/Holden/Vauxhall--Cadillac strategy would have worked well globally. It looked like that is where GM was going was creating a global entry-level luxury brand which changed name with continent. Oh well. Lets hope GM knows what its doing (I doubt it).
sbdude
Sounds like GM has once again SAABed the hell out of another brand, and one that provided it with invaluable engineering and technology. Buick wouldn't be what it is in China (and perhaps the U.S.) without Opel. This reeks of robbing peter to pay paul.

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