By the time announcements were made in Berlin yesterday afternoon, I, for one, had had about enough of Opel.

Magna. RHJ. Keep. Liquidate. Would somebody just make a decision? And so they did and, terms and conditions applying, it’s Magna and Russian friends in the frame.

But there are still questions. Like which factories will be closed? Where? How many tossed onto the unemployment heap in the middle of the worst recession in years? So far unanswered.

Reaction, as expected is mixed. Russian media are jubilant, after a very bad year so far for that country’s auto industry after several years of moonshot growth. Roll on the technology transfer, they say.

Analysts agree Opel has too much capacity and must make cuts but sniff that Magna has little automaking experience.

As if all those that have, especially within GM, have a stellar record. What brought us to this point in the first place?

Magna is both a long-established supplier and a contract assembler. Suppliers get involved very early in vehicle development these days and are increasingly asked to shoulder more and more of the development burden and risk.

As sole maker of some vehicle models, it knows how to engineer a car for production and build to a high standard. Not a bad resume for starters; surely any skill shortfall can be hired in?

Here in the UK, much interest is focused on a long-awaited government report into the 2005 collapse of MG Rover. One key finding is that the four directors and the CEO paid themselves a bit too much. Their ripost: the government should have helped more. Ultimate winner seems to have been China’s SAIC.

The plant that the world’s automakers once came to see and learn from is mostly demolished now; our own Rob Golding, of course, takes a pithy view of the saga – there’s a lot more to it than today’s Labour propaganda would have us believe.

Lest anyone think the British motor industry died and was buried with Rover, Lotus this week announced it had developed range-extender technology. And McLaren lifted the covers off something to have the Top Gear crowd salivating and the green-obsessed apoplectic.


Enjoy your weekend,

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor