Europe is a mess. The French auto industry is doing its best imitation of 1980s-era Flint, Michigan, Mitsubishi just sold an assembly plant for a single euro and pundits are calling for Ford and General Motors to just bail on the whole continent, where sales are dropping at an alarming rate.

Good luck, Steve Girsky.

General Motors announced today that Karl-Friedrich Stracke, its European president and CEO of the Opel empire is out, and vice chairman Steve Girsky has the reins, at least on an interim basis. Girsky had been serving as chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, crafting a turnaround plan for the beleaguered GM subsidiary. Stracke will "take on special assignments reporting to GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson," according to an official press release. (Bonus points are duly awarded for not saying that he would be spending more time with his family.)

According to Fortune, Opel has bled some $16.4 billion since 1999 and probably can't do much to right its financial fortunes until 2015, due to a labor agreement that forbids plant closures. The report indicates that this new assignment for Girsky is likely an audition for Akerson's job. Should he manage to produce any positive results with Opel, it could raise his standing within GM.
Show full PR text
Girsky to Serve as Interim Head of GM European Operations
GM Europe President Karl Stracke steps down to take on special assignments

RUSSELSHEIM, Germany – General Motors Europe President and Opel/Vauxhall CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke today stepped down from his position to take on special assignments reporting to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, currently Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, will serve as acting head of GM's European operations as the company searches for a replacement.

Stracke, 56, was President, GM Europe and Chairman of the Management Board of Adam Opel, in charge of all Opel/Vauxhall operations. He led the effort to put Opel/Vauxhall on a path toward sustained profitability amid a massive European economic downturn.

The Opel Supervisory Board will be convened soon to appoint an interim chairman of the management board.

"Karl Stracke worked tirelessly, under great pressure, to stabilize this business and we look forward to building on his success. We appreciate Karl's many contributions to GM's success," Akerson said.

"I am leaving my current position knowing that Opel/Vauxhall has a bright future," Stracke said. "And I am looking forward to taking on new challenges for GM and Dan Akerson."Insert your press release here!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think anybody, other than your contributor from a few weeks ago, is genuinely advocating that GM and Ford exit the European market. Being one of, if not the most fiercely competitive automobile market in the World, re-entering the market would be incredibly difficult, primarily due to the ability of European manufacturers to fill any gap left by GM of Ford. Equally the feelings of resentment due to thousands of job losses would hardly help matters, not to mention that the cars designed in Europe are exported globally by these manufacturers. Essentially it would be incredibly short term-thinking to withdraw from the European market. Basically we shouldn't fall into the trap of pretending that Europe is a lost cause for these two. Fords and Vauxhalls (GM's British subsidiary) made up 4 of the top 5 selling cars in the UK last year, and 4 of the top 10 in Europe as a whole, so it's not like they're not selling at all. Equally if Volkswagen as well as PSA and Renault can make a profit in Europe (with the French manufacturers selling lower numbers than GM and Ford), it seems like the problem is not the market per se, but GM and Fords inability to adapt their production levels to its changing demand.
      • 3 Years Ago
        Robert Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        "GM pick-up truck sales ZERO they don't sell one here" Very good reasons why not:: they are too big for smaller European side roads and too small for some of the very heavy loads carried by Van Cutaways and generally they do not have diesels.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Robert Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      "probably can't do much to right its financial fortunes until 2015, due to a labor agreement that forbids plant closures" That pretty much says it all.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "ADD Steve" Girsky short record as an automotive exec is well known within GM . He has had no real operational experience in anything. His only automotive experience prior to his high level appointment as part of the GM BK was as a loudmouthed analyst. Its as if someone hired someone who won a lot of Football on Madden 2008 and talked a lot of smack was made him the defensive coordinator coach of the Lions in 2009. Not picked by the coach, but by Barack Obama. ADD Steve likes "ideas" and is constantly looking for a "deal" to make instant success, but does not set in place sufficient resources or sufficient measures to actually manage or execute an idea or a deal. No follow up and lots of arrogance. No comprehension of the magnitude of the business of developing and building cars. He is just on to the next thing, and has not been held accountable for the several regrettable messes he has started. This is Ackerson's smartest move, because now clearly accountable for results that will make his removal easy to do, and without protest from the US Treasury.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good, he deserves it. He was the biggest internal opponent to Fritz when he was trying to sell off Opel. Let him sleep in the bed he made.
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