General Motors Europe
|Former type||subsidiary of
|Successor(s)||Adam Opel AG
Chevrolet Europe GmbH
|Founded||April 4, 1986|
|Number of locations||14 manufacturing facilities in nine countries|
|Key people||Nick Reilly|
|Parent||General Motors Corp.|
|Subsidiaries||Adam Opel GmbH
Vauxhall Motors UK
|Website||GM Europe.com (removed)|
General Motors Europe (often abbreviated to GM Europe) was responsible for the operation of General Motors ("GM") businesses in Europe. The subsidiary was established by GM in 1986 and operated 14 production and assembly facilities in 9 countries, and employed around 54,500 people. GM's core European brands are UK-based Vauxhall and Germany-based Opel, which sell much the same range of cars in different markets. It formerly owned the Swedish marque Saab until early 2010. The U.S. brands Corvette and Cadillac are imported into Europe in small quantities. After Saab was sold to Spyker, GM and its German subsidiary Opel decided to eliminate the former GM Europe organization in Zurich, Switzerland. Opel is now managed from its brand headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany. There are now two independent organizations in Europe: Opel AG, which includes the division Vauxhall, and Chevrolet Europe GmbH. Chevrolet is still managed and headquartered from Zurich, Switzerland.
In Europe, GM Europe operated 14 vehicle production and assembly facilities in nine countries and employed around 54,500* people. Many additional directly related jobs were provided by some 8,700 independent sales and service outlets. In 2005 GM's market share in Europe was 9.4%.
- Germany: Bochum, Eisenach, Kaiserslautern and Rüsselsheim (Opel factories), employed 25,103 workers.
- Spain: Figueruelas, Zaragoza (GM factory), employed 7,001 workers, being the biggest of General Motors in Europe.
- UK: Ellesmere Port and Luton (Vauxhall factories), employed 4,279 workers.
- Sweden: Trollhattan (Saab factory), employed 3,892 workers.
- Poland: Gliwice (GM factory), employed 3,582 workers.
- Belgium: Antwerp (GM factory), employed 2,584 workers.
- Russia: St. Petersburg (GM factory), employed 986 workers.
The total number of European employees were 54,500 (as of May 2009).
General Motors entered the European market only three years after the company's foundation in 1908. This involved the construction of Chevrolet cars in Denmark in 1923 and Belgium in 1925. This involvement was greatly expanded by the acquisitions of Vauxhall in 1925 and Opel in Germany in 1929.
In 1986 GM officially inaugurated GM Europe.
The same year, GM bought Lotus group in England and seven years later, on 27 August 1993, GM sold the company for £30 million to owners of Bugatti. GM acquired a 50 percent stake in Saab of Sweden in 1989, taking full ownership in 2000. General Motors also developed a partnership with and acquired a stake in Fiat in 2000. GM divested its minority equity interests and dissolved the partnership in 2005, following a legal fight regarding the conditions of a put option afforded Fiat.
Following the 2008 global financial crisis, and GM's plunge towards bankruptcy, on May 30, 2009, it was announced that a deal had been reached to transfer New Opel (Opel plus Vauxhall, minus Saab) assets to a separate company, controlled by a trustee.
The deal, underwritten by the German Government, was negotiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. GM was expected to keep a 35% minority stake in the new company, Opel staff 10%, with a plan which proposed to sell the majority of the business to one of two partners:
- A consortium majority-owned by a Sberbank of Russia (35%), Magna International of Canada (20%), and Opel employees and car dealers (10%)
The new company would not be allowed to sell Opel cars in the US (permanently) and China (at least temporarily) markets, which are the two biggest markets in the world.
On June 1, 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy in a court in New York. As the sale of Opel has been negotiated two days before, with the preferred bidder the Magna consortia, both companies were in effect ring-fenced from any GM asset liquidation. Magna stated that their plans for Opel included attracting GM or third-party carmakers to build their cars and electric vehicles in Antwerp. If Opel needed to reduce production of its own core models then any unused capacity could be used to manufacture vehicles for other carmakers. Inside sources close to Magna revealed that some of the possible third party carmakers include Ford and PSA Peugeot Citroen. However, negotiations broke down with Magna over details, particularly the sale of intellectual property rights and distribution of all future GM products in the former Soviet Union.
GM announced that final bids were to be placed with them by July 20, which resulted in three bidders:
- Magna, still backed by Sberbank, had made a last-minute change to its bid in order to placate concerns about its Russian partner's influence. This would result in both partners having a 27.5% share in the new company, with GM retaining 35%
- Belgian-based investor RHJ International
- China's Beijing Automotive Industries - disqualified over "intellectual property issues" a few days later
Towards the end of August 2009 there were doubts over whether a sale of Opel would actually go ahead, though a German government official later revealed that talks were continuing. This was followed by RHJ International raising its bid for Opel to €300m from €275m.
On 10 September 2009, GM agreed to sell a 55% stake in the German brand Opel to the Magna group with the approval of the German government. With this move, Magna Chairman Frank Stronach aims to take Magna from its current role as a parts supplier to an expanded role as a global automaker that ranks “amongst the leaders in selling and building electric cars.” However, on 3 November 2009 the GM board called off the Magna deal after coming to the conclusion that Opel was crucial to GM's global strategy.
Sale of Saab to Spyker
Originally GM planned to sell Saab to Swedish sportscar maker Koenigsegg but the deal fell through in November 2009. On 26 January 2010 Saab was sold to Spyker Cars, forming a company now known as Swedish Automobile.
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- [dead link]
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- RHJ raises bid for carmaker Opel BBC News. 2 September 2009
- "Opel and Vauxhall to go to Magna". BBC News. 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- Garthwaite, Josie (2009-06-02). "Magna Moves on Opel, Gears Up for Electric Car Bet". Earth2tech.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
- Vlasic, Bill (November 3, 2009). "G.M. Decides to Keep Opel, Its European Unit". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Vauxhall UK
- Cadillac Europe
- Chevrolet Europe
- Opel International
- Saab International
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