Mike Stevens | Mar 4, 2009

More grim tidings today with news that GM’s European operations could be staring at the prospect of collapse in coming weeks, if European governments do not come to its aid.

According to GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson, funding to the tune of €3.3b (AU$6.4b, US$4.1b) is needed to assist the separation of Opel and Vauxhall, if GM Europe is to remain afloat.

Mr Henderson said that some 300,000 jobs hang in the balance, and that helping GM Europe is more than simply helping the company out of its own hole – it is fending off mass job losses.

However, after meeting with GM Europe’s Chief Executive Carl-Peter Forster on Monday, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said he is not yet convinced that Opel has a sustainable future, which the company is required to prove if it is to receive government aid.

opel-insignia_01

Sweden and the UK have voiced similar views on the futures of Saab and Vauxhall.

Despite halving production to around 200,000 cars in the October to December quarter 2008, collapsing sales and collapsing currencies, the latter notably in the UK and Russia, have GM Europe on the brink. The futures of its plants in Antwerp, Belgium, Ellesmere Port in the UK, Bochum in Germany, and Saab's Trollhaettan plant, look increasingly uncertain.

In what must be a bittersweet irony, there is a genuine prospect of a future without GM Europe, while on the table sits a model line-up better than the European operation has offered in years.

The Opel Insignia was recently voted Car of the Year 2009.

The Opel Ampera – a restyled version of the Chevrolet Volt – was also unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year, and is a car that may hold the key to GM Europe’s future.

[BBC]

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