According to Alain Visser, Opel's head of sales and marketing, Opel needs a minicar to compete. However, developing a new minicar is a huge expense, and even though Opel has set aside €250 million for this car, the company would like a partner. It's not unusual: Ford and Fiat share the Fiat Panda/Fiat 500/Ford Ka platform; Toyota and PSA share the Toyota Aygo/Citroën C1/Peugeot 107 structure. Opel has already a similar model, the Agila (shown above), which is jointly made with the Suzu
2010 Opel Astra - Click above for a high-res image gallery
It looks like the German government is about to announce its list of preferred bidders for Opel this week, and the list is likely to include Fiat and Magna. Why would this list be coming from Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman and not, say, GM? Because the German government will have to step in with financing guarantees when the deal is made.
Magna tried and lost when Chrysler was for sale. Pulling a Marchionne, Magna's now trying to win GM Europe's Opel division for itself, and rumor is that Saturn is also on the shopping list. GM would get much-needed capital for the transactions, but it could also be facing its old properties as new competition. Of course, coughing up the money might be difficult, considering Magna's taken a shellacking so far this year.
Fiat's bid for worldwide domination of the automotive industry has seen a bit of a snag in Germany, where government officials are said to be balking at the Italian automaker's plan to take over GM's struggling Opel brand. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne sounds confident that his plan is the best way forward for Opel, saying: