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GM Europe boss says Opel in good hands

All important: The new Astra is crucial for Opel.

Tough, but Opel will succeed under Magna, says GM Europe boss

Opel logo21 Sep 2009

By JAMES STANFORD in GERMANY

GENERAL Motors Europe president Carl-Peter Foster has warned that Opel’s recovery will be a long, but he insists it is in good hands.

GM announced last week that it intends to sell a 55 per cent stake of Opel and British brand Vauxhall to a consortium led by manufacturer Magna and two Russian banks, including one that is state owned.

Ten per cent of the brand will be owned by Opel employees, leaving just 35 per cent under GM’s direct control.

The deal was brokered German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose German government sweetened it with loans worth €4.5 billion ($A7.6 billion).

GM executives have pledged that no assembly plants will close, a fact that is likely to help Chancellor Merkel in upcoming government elections.

Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Mr Foster said Opel executives were pleased with the sale of the majority share.

“We welcome it a lot. We are very happy with this,” he said. “We see a good future. We are mutually complementary.”

 center imageLeft: GM Europe president Carl-Peter Foster.

Mr Foster called for critics of Opel to be quiet.

“I would like to ask the critical voices to allow us to do our job and watch us show how we can write our own success story,” he said.

Mr Foster added that there was a lot of work ahead of the company.

Opel used the show to present the all-new Astra, a car that will be central to its planned recovery, although it is unlikely to appear in Australia.

It is built of a derivation of the Delta II platform used for the Holden Cruze, but features a revised rear suspension system combining a compound crank set-up with a Watts link, which Opel says is a first.

Eight engine variants will be offered, with power ranging from 70kW to 132kW. The best fuel consumption is 4.6L/100km for the diesels and 6.1L/100km for the petrol units.

Class-leading new technology includes a new generation of what it calls bi-xenon Advanced Forward Lighting which changes the intensity and spread of the light cast to the road and weather conditions.

It has also included the Opel Eye system which uses a special camera to recognise road signs and relay them to the driver on a large screen. It also alerts them if the car leaves its lane.

Opel also presented its own version of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, called the Ampera, which it plans to introduce in 2011.

Mr Foster said cars such as the Ampera showed it was crucial for Opel to maintain a good relationship with General Motors.

“It is important to maintain these technical links. Without such co-operation vehicles such as the Ampera would not be possible,” he said.

Opel also used the Frankfurt show to introduce a new slogan: Wir leben Autos, which translates as Cars Are Our Passion.

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