General Motors Co. has its work cut out for it if it wants to get the support of the Germany government for Opel's restructuring. CEO Fritz Henderson went to Opel's headquarters last Monday to attempt to mend relations.
Apparently, he wasn't able to give a good answer to demands from German unions and political leaders for greater economy from Detroit's headquarters.
Henderson was only able to give vague assurances that Detroit would give its European carmaker more freedom.
Henderson didn't show much enthusiasm in marketing Opels outside Europe or of elevating the unit's status from a limited liability company to an incorporated stock company as proof that the carmaker would gain a greater measure of self-determination.
Instead, he pointed to the strategy for its Chevrolet brand in Brazil, where another GM brand is certainly not needed. At the news briefing, he referred to Opel as a regional brand, which he doesn't think will be changing anytime soon.
While he said that he's not closing his door to ideas on selling Opel elsewhere, he explained that the measure of the Opel brand's success will be Europe, "because if you don't win here all the discussion of exports will be irrelevant." To be able to ensure state aid, Berlin is further demanding that German funds are spent in Europe on Opel.
The government also wants GM to provide a water-tight legal separation between it and Opel to avoid any suspicion that German cash is being leaked to Detroit. [via autonews]