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Adam Opel GmbH
Type Private company, subsidiary of General Motors
Founded Rüsselsheim, Germany on January 21, 1863
Founder(s) Adam Opel
Headquarters Rüsselsheim, Germany
Number of locations production locations: Germany: Bochum, Eisenach, Kaiserslautern and Rüsselsheim
Spain: Zaragoza
Poland: Gliwice
UK: Ellesmere Port and Luton (Vauxhall factories)
Austria: Vienna/Aspern
Belgium : Antwerpen
Area served Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Pacific
Key people Nick Reilly (CEO)
Reinald Hoben (Manufacturing)
Holger Kimmes (HR)
Tom McMillen (Purchasing)
Alain Visser (Sales, Marketing & Aftersales)
Rita Forst (Executive Director, Vehicle Systems & Integration)
Mark James (Chief Financial Officer)
Industry Automotive
Products Automobiles
Services GMAC, OnStar
Revenue 18.2 billion (2009)
Employees 25,900 (2009)
Parent General Motors Company
Subsidiaries Opel Performance Center

Adam Opel GmbH is a German automobile company founded by Adam Opel in 1863. It has been a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) since 1929. The company was an AG (German plc) up to 2005.

Opel is headquartered in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany.



The company was founded in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany on 21 January 1863 by Adam Opel. At the beginning, Opel just produced sewing machines in a cowshed in Rüsselsheim. Above all, his success was based on his perfectly customized sewing machines. Because of the quick growth of his business, in 1888 the production was relocated from the cowshed to a more spacious building in Rüsselsheim. Encouraged by success, Adam Opel launched a new product in 1886: He began to sell high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings. Besides, Opel's two sons participated in high-wheel bicycle races and thus promoted this means of transportation. Therefore, the production of high-wheel bicycles soon exceeded the production of sewing machines.[1] At the time of Opel's death in 1895, he was the leader in both markets.

The first cars were produced in 1899 after Opel's sons entered into a partnership with Friedrich Lutzmann, a locksmith at the court in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt, who had been working on automobile designs for some time.[2] These cars were not very successful and so the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel's sons signed a licensing agreement with the French Automobiles Darracq S.A. to manufacture vehicles under the brand name "Opel-Darracq". These cars were made up of Opel bodies mounted on a Darracq chassis, powered by a 2-cylinder engine.

1901 Adam Opel separates from Lutzmann and signed a new contract with a Frenchman, Alexandre Darracq. The company first showed cars of its own design at the 1902 Hamburg Motor Show, and started manufacturing them in 1906, with Opel-Darracq production being discontinued in 1907.

In 1909, the Opel 4/8 hp model, known as the "Doctor's Car" was produced. Its reliability and robustness were greatly appreciated by physicians, who drove a lot to see their patients, back when hard-surfaced roads were still rare. The "Doctor's Car" sold for only 3,950 marks, about half as much as the luxury models of its day.

In 1911, the company's factory was virtually destroyed by fire and a new one was built with more up-to-date machinery.

By 1914, Opel had become the largest German manufacturer of motor vehicles.

In the early 1920's, Opel became the first German car manufacturer to incorporate a mass production assembly line in the building of their automobiles. In 1924, they used their assembly line to produce a new open two-seater called the "Laubfrosch." The Laubfrosch was finished exclusively in green lacquer. The car sold for an expensive 4,500 marks, (expensive considering the less expensive manufacturing process) but by the 1930's this type of vehicle would cost a mere 1,990 marks - due in part to the assembly line, but also due to the skyrocketing demand for cars. Adam Opel led the way for motorized transportation to become not just a means for the rich, but a reliable way for people of all classes to travel.

Opel had a 37.5% market share in Germany and was also the country's largest automobile exporter in 1928. The "Regent", Opel's first eight-cylinder car was offered. The RAK 1 and RAK 2 rocket-propelled cars made sensational record-breaking runs.

In March 1929 General Motors, impressed by Opel's modern production facilities, bought 80% of the company, increasing this to 100% in 1931. The Opel family gained $33.3 million from the transaction. Subsequently, a second factory was built at Brandenburg for the production of "Blitz" (~"Lightning") light trucks.

In 1935, Opel became the first German car manufacturer to produce over 100,000 vehicles a year. This was based on the popular Opel "P4" model. The selling price was a mere 1,650 marks and had a 1.1 liter four cylinder engine with 23 hp and a top speed of 85 km/h. Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle with a self-supporting all steel body. They called it the "Olympia". With its small weight and aerodynamics came an improvement in both performance and fuel consumption. Opel receives a patent which is considered one of the most important innovations in automotive history.

1939 saw the presentation of the extremely successful, "Kapitän." With a 2.5 liter six cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot water heating w/electric blower and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before intensification the Second World War brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn/Fall of 1940, by order of the government.

Second World War

Military LKW Opel Blitz, Italy, 1944

World War II brought to Rüsselsheim the only year in the entire history of Opel -- 1945 -- in which it produced no vehicles at all, since that first Lutzmann-authored Opel was made in 1898. Before the conflict broke out, the Adam Opel AG had established itself as the largest motor vehicle manufacturer in Europe . The combination of Opel know-how with GM resources had produced outstanding results. In spite of stifling red tape, the economic atmosphere in Germany in the 1930's had powerfully fertilized the growth of this and other auto companies. But in the case of Opel, at least, it was clear that the expansion of this industrial machine was not directed in any way toward military objectives.

Even after June 1940, when official connections between Opel and America were broken, the Rüsselsheim plant was never given a major role in Germany's war preparations. Neither it nor Ford's plant in Cologne was considered trustworthy enough for a big assignment, such as tank manufacture, in view of their earlier foreign associations. Initially, of course, it had appeared that the war would be a short one settled in Germany's favor. Auto plants were shut down, to conserve resources, but not converted to other jobs.

When in 1942 it became clearer that the fighting would go on for a while, car and truck factories were switched to war work in a modest way, Opel taking up the production of aircraft parts. Only at the Brandenburg truck plant did vehicle manufacture roar ahead at full speed. From the end of 1938 onward to big Opel Blitz trucks had been powered by the same basic 3.6 liter engine used in the Admiral. To meet the growing demands of wartime, three-ton trucks of Opel design were built under license by Daimler-Benz at the former Benz factory at Mannheim .

One of the most versatile small German military vehicles, the Kettenkrad, a curious but useful blend of tank and motorcycle , was powered with a 1488cc Olympia four-cylinder engine. Produced by NSU , it had motorcycle-type front-wheel steering for gentle turns and negotiated tight corners with brakes on the propelling caterpillar tracks. The Kettenkrad towed antitank guns and transported troops and signal gear in several theater of war. NSU continued to make it after the war for use in mines and forests. It was one of the few vehicles that could do jobs formerly performed by horses for which, owing to the shortage of oats, there was even less fuel available than for motor vehicles!

As the war progressed, military authorities placed greater stress on the development of air-cooled engines, which they felt had more immunity to damage from weather, shellfire and misuse. To meet this demand, Opel engineers developed an unusual variation on normal cooling for the 3.6 liter truck engine. It was called "air-oil cooling," and used engine oil to take heat away from the jackets around the cylinder barrels. The heads were directly cooled by air, there being three separate aluminum finned heads, each serving two cylinders. Of this interesting engine, which developed 72bhp at 3000 rpm on 74-octane fuel, only three examples were built.

Other special jobs were undertaken at the Rüsselsheim factory. One that was too exotic to be typical was the construction of an intercooler for the supercharger of the famous Junkers Juno aero engine. Special methods had to be developed to fabricate this vital assembly from very thin sheets of aluminum. With work like this going on, Germany's enemies naturally took note of the various Opel plants and, starting in August 1944, began visiting them by air. The resulting devastation was a tragic echo of the effects of the fire of exactly 33 years earlier. Destruction was heavy at both Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg from the attacks by Allied bombers. Never was the outlook more bleak at Adam Opel AG than in the first months of 1945.

Opel had been transformed and rebuilt before. There was very little, actually, beyond the determination of the men and women who believed in the power of the Opel idea and the eighty-three years over which it had been created. Many of the tools with which they once had worked were gone. The Brandenburg truck plant fell into the Russian Zone of a divided postwar Germany. It did not stay there long. All the machinery and equipment -- right down to the window frames and bathroom fixtures -- was dismantled and shipped to a site near the Ural mountains.

Cars as well as truck production lines were lost by Opel. As reparations for war destruction, under plans of the Allied Forces , the Soviet Union asked the Allied Military Government for the tools, jigs, dies, fixtures, and drawings for the Kadett. This, they said, they would use to begin auto production at an Opel subsidiary in Russian-occupied Leipzig . The equipment was duly delivered to the Soviets in June 1946, and that was the last Opel was to see of it -- but not of the Kadett.

Just a year later a new Soviet car, the Moskvitch 400 , rolled off a Moscow assembly line. It was the Opel Kadett in every detail; only the name was changed. By late 1950 the Russians were exporting these Kremlin Kadetts to Belgium, stressing in their promotion that spare parts could easily be obtained from Germany. Not until 1959 was a Moskovitch model introduced that bore no trace of Opel engineering. And by that time Opel was just about ready to introduce a new Kadett of its own.

Only the strong resistance of the American government within whose zone of occupation Rüsselsheim was located, prevented the total dismantling of the entire Opel plant as reparations in Russia. GM had no say in these discussions and in fact wasn't sure just what posture to take toward its sometime subsidiary. GM's Alfred Sloan recalled:

"(Opel) had been seized by the German government soon after the war began. In 1942 our entire investment in Opel amounted to about $35 million, and under a ruling which the Treasury Department had made concerning assets in enemy hands, we were allowed to write off the investment against current taxable income. But this ruling did not end our interest in, or responsibility for, the Opel property. As the end of the war drew near, we were given to understand that we were still considered the owners of the Opel stock; and we were also given to understand that as the owners, we might be obliged to assume responsibility for the property." It was a responsibility that Sloan and his associates weren't at all sure was worth the risk in the chaos of postwar Europe.

One resource that did not appear on the books of General Motors or on the rolls of the occupying authorities was most responsible for the recovery of Opel in 1945: the extraordinary loyalty of its workers. They were not itinerant opportunists who had looked on their work at Rüsselsheim as just another job. They were men and women who had, for the most part, come from that immediate area, many from the quiet of the country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG More important to them than their own fates was that of Opel, for its collapse would mean the loss of the most important employer for the people of Rüsselsheim who were finding their way home from the chaos of war.

Just at war's end a small skeleton crew began clearing the rubble from the plant. By May 1945, this work had advanced enough to allow the beginning of production of desperately-needed Opel parts. Getting the materials for them was more dependent on barter and black markets than it was on normal sources of supply, which had all but ceased to exist.

Post World War II

After the end of the war, former Opel employees began to rebuild the nearly completely destroyed Rüsselsheim plant. In response to the pressing need for new trucks in a Germany struggling to rebuild, the American authorities governing Rüsselsheim granted permission to the plant to produce a 1 1/2 ton truck powered by the 2 1/2 liter Kapitän engine. It was a minor miracle that even this was possible. By January of 1946 the plant itself was ready to build trucks but many of the almost 12,000 parts needed to make each one were lacking. Before the big firms could begin, the small ones had to get started too. And illness and poor nutrition so crippled the staff of 6000 workers that it was normal for 500 to be too sick to come to work and more than 400 to report sick during the day.

Overcoming these and other obstacles, Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on July 15, 1946. Priced at 6600RM, the truck was designed to run either on gasoline or on wood gas, for which a gas generator could be supplied. With a ceremonial bouquet of flowers flying from its rear-view mirror, this historic Opel Blitz left the factory gate bound for a buyer in Wiesbaden on July 26. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, by the end of 1946 the production total was 839. Frigidaire refrigerators were also being made at Rüsselsheim, as were Olympia engines for the NSU Kettenkrad.

The next step for Opel was the resumption of passenger car production. It might have seemed easiest to bring back the Kapitan first, since its engine was already in production for the truck. But occupation regulations restricted German civilians to cars of 1 1/2 liters or less, which made the Olympia the obvious candidate. Under Dr. Ing e.h. Karl Stief, who had been chief engineer at Opel since 1934, useful changes were made to this tough little car. The Dubonnet front suspension was replaced by a conventional coil-and-wishbone layout ant the steering was correspondingly rearranged.

Announced in November of 1947, production of the post-war Olympia, with austere painted hubcaps, began in December 1948 and allowed a modest return to export sales in that year. In October 1948, the Kapitän cane back to the Opel lineup, unchanged except for such details as the shape of the headlights and improvements in the leaf springs and dampers. Prices in 1948 were 9950 DM for the Kapitan and 6785 DM for the Olympia (the Deutschmark having replaced the Reichsmark on June 20, 1948).

Other events which would powerfully affect Opel's future were taking place in 1948. In February and March, a GM study group came to Germany to investigate every aspect of Europe's economic situation and Opel's special problems. On their return they submitted a report, on March 26, recommending that General Motors resume control of Opel. On April 5, however, GM's financial policy committee concluded that "in view of the many uncertainities surrounding the operation of this property, the Corporation is not justified in resuming the responsibility for its operation at this time..." GM, it seemed, didn't want Opel.

Second thoughts on this decision leaped immediately into the minds of such executives as Alfred P. Sloan Jr., and Charles Wilson, GM's President. Later in April Sloan sought to resolve the differences of opinion with a position paper that he hoped would set up conditions for resuming control of Opel that would put at rest the doubts of GM's more conservative financial minds.

Sloan suggested that GM take the helm of Opel again for a two-year "probationary" period to see whether the economic conditions, then called "close to stagnation" in Germany, would improve. Sloan set other important goals: "General Motors should risk no additional capital in Opel. Credit facilities should be available. We should have complete freedom in personnel policies and administration. The products produced by Adam Opel AG should be solely within the jurisdiction of management, and if prices had to be approved by government authority, a reasonable return on the capital should be allowed."

With these guidelines in mind the Opel question was put again on May 3 to the GM financial policy committee, which then withdrew its objections to a return to Rüsselsheim. Many, many details still had to be worked out, both within GM and in the US occupied zone of Germany, before this could actually occur. At last the official word was released on November 1, 1948: General Motors resumed management control of Adam Opel AG Edward W. Zdunek, formerly regional manager for Europe of General Motors Overseas Operations Division, was named managing director.

The appointment of Zdunek to this post was a move of special significance. An experienced motor industry executive, he was a man who was not merely liked but indeed loved by those who worked for him. The sensitive hand of Ed Zdunek was the perfect choice to guide the fragile Opel ship through the roiling waters of postwar Germany. He continued in that critical position until 1961.

Changes in the Opel cars under GM's management didn't appear until January of 1950, when a face-lifted Olympia was introduced. Front and rear fenders were elongated and a heavy horizontal chrome grille was added. A retrograde step was the replacement of the four-speed gearbox with a three-speed unit, with a column shift lever. Engine tuning emphasized high torque at low engine speeds so the extra ratio wasn't too sorely missed. The cabrio-coach model was returned to the Olympia range and a kombi was also offered , built by Karosserie Miesen. In February 1951, in preparation for the first postwar automobile show in Germany, the Olympia was dressed up further with a trunk compartment that enclosed the spare tire and 15-inch wheels instead of 16-inch wheels and tires. With minor further changes this model lasted to March, 1953.

Detail improvements, such as a new dashboard and a steering column shift, embellished the Kapitän line in May of 1950. Bigger changes were saved for March 1951, to anticipate the opening of the doors of the Frankfurt show on April 19 for an eleven-day run. Its earlier fast-back style was modified to a mild notch-back contour, and a new horizontal grille -- not the prettiest in Opel history -- dominated the frontal view. With a higher compression ratio (still only 6.25 to one) engine power was 58bhp at 3700rpm and top speed was 80 mph. Output increased to 60bhp during the further life of this model, which ended in July 1953.

More or less by 'fait accompli', in the absence of the tools to build the Kadett, Opel found itself in the middle-priced bracket in Germany's postwar auto market, sandwiched between VW and Mercedes-Benz. This was a position that was not unfamiliar to both GM and Opel, and one in which it did amazingly well. In 1953 output rose above 100,000 units for the first time since the war, and in 1954, when the sprawling plant by the Main River was considered completely rebuilt, 24,270 were employed at Adam Opel AG and 167,650 vehicles were built -- an all-time high. Opel had looked the spectre of oblivion in the eye and come back stronger than ever.

Environmental initiatives 1980 - 1989

In the 1980's, Opel introduces a number of environmental initiatives, several of which were industry firsts. The Opel Omega , introduced in 1986, offers a broad range of low exhaust emission gasoline and diesel engines and is elected "Car of the Year 1987". Opel sets new standards in aerodynamics with the Opel Vectra in 1988.

Growth through internationalization 1990 - 1999

Opel makes significant progress in expanding its model range, in new product technology and in the internationalization of the Opel brand. The Opel Technical Development Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany becomes the core of General Motors international product development strategy and the lead source for design and technology. Opel makes considerable investments in the expansion of existing European plants and operations and in new production facilities worldwide. With the increased capacity, Opel is ready to introduce the Opel nameplate in new markets around the globe.

From 2008 - Financial crisis and the failure of separation from General Motors

In early 2009, the future of Opel was thrown into uncertainty as the global financial crisis drove GM towards bankruptcy. New Opel (Opel plus Vauxhall, minus Saab),[3] was controlled by a trustee, with a controlling board made up of representatives from GM, employees and the German Government; the company was subject to a bidding process.

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,[4][5] Opel staff 10%,[6] with a plan which proposed to sell the majority of the business to one of two partners:

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.[7]

On June 1, 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy in a court in New York. As the sale of Opel had been negotiated two days before, with the preferred bidder the Magna consortia, both companies were in effect ring-fenced from any GM asset liquidation.[8][9][10][11] 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.[12]

GM announced that final bids were to be placed with them by July 20, which resulted in three bidders:[13]

  • 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[14]

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.[15] This was followed by RHJ International raising its bid for Opel to €300m from €275m.[16]

On 10 September 2009, GM agreed to sell a 55% stake in Opel to the Magna group with the approval of the German government.[17] The agreement would have kept Opel a fully integrated part of GM’s global product development organisation. 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.[18]


  • 2008 - The global financial crisis hits both Opel and its parent company hard. Opel's future is uncertain and in November 2008, the company asks the German government for state loan guarantees. GM tells US Congress that it needs $18 billion to stay afloat.
  • March 4, 2009 - GM floats the idea of re-launching Opel as an independent company. This would entail the slashing of 3,500 jobs.
  • April 28, 2009 - The Canadian-Austrian auto parts maker Magna presents outlines of an offer for Opel.
  • May 20, 2009 - GM announces it has received three offers for Opel. The bidders are Magna, Fiat and RHJ International.
  • May 30, 2009 - Germany agrees a deal with Magna, GM and the US government to save Opel from the bankruptcy of its US parent.
  • June 11, 2009 - Germany announces that it is still in talks with other potential investors.
  • July 20, 2009 - GM receives takeover offers for Opel from Magna, RHJ and Chinese carmaker BAIC.
  • July 28, 2009 - Magna offers to increase the upfront capital it would invest in Opel.
  • August 11, 2009 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel announces she is ready to intervene personally in support of Magna's bid.
  • August 19, 2009 - The German government says that if GM chooses Magna as Opel's buyer, it could provide 4.5 billion euros in state aid. It could, it claims, raise the money without the help of other European governments.
  • September 10, 2009 - It is announced that GM has chosen Magna as the buyer. German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes the news. After 90 years of GM ownership, Opel prepares itself for the hand over.
  • November 3, 2009 - GM goes back on its decision to sell its European unit to Magna and its financial partner Sberbank. As grounds for the decision, GM cited an improving business environment and the importance of its European unit to the company's revamped global strategy.


Opel vehicles are sold as Vauxhalls in the UK. In other right hand drive markets in Europe, like Ireland, Cyprus and Malta, the main brand name is now Opel. However, many Vauxhall cars are imported second hand from the UK and sold in Ireland.[19] Vauxhall has rejected this on the grounds that its brand is well known and, in the eighties, there was a preference among fleet buyers, the main customer base at the time, for the Vauxhall brand.

The Opel factory in Bochum

Adam Opel GmbH is one of the most traditional Car Manufactures in Germany. The headquarters and the largest factory are located in Rüsselsheim. The Rüsselsheim plant is the largest by 2002 for around €750 million, which has been transformed to the most modern car plant in the world. Other Opel plants are in Bochum, Eisenach, and Kaiserslautern, Germany; Vienna/Aspern, Austria; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Zaragoza, Spain; Antwerpen, Belgium; and Gliwice, Poland. Opel cars are also made in Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port and Luton plant in the UK. Opel also offers a testing center in Dudenhofen and a test and event center in Pferdsfeld.

Opels Int.Technical Development Center (ITDC) in Rüsselsheim, Germany is the research and development center with a responsibility for all global small (Delta platform) and mid-size (Epsilon platform) cars. It is located in Rüsselsheim, Germany, in close neighbourhood with the Rüsselsheim plant. Many of the manufacturing engineering functions are still located within the plant. Currently about 8,000 employees including the hourly workforce for testing facilities and protoype build are working within the ITDC. Engineering staff will count approx. 4,000 including some 1,000 manufacturing engineers. Opel plays a key role in the development of new cars and technologies for GM. [20]

Opel Operates one of the worlds largest development centers foe fuel cell technology, in Mainz-Kastel, Germany. More than 100 Opel engineers are working there.

Around 350 people work in the design center of Opel in Rüsselsheim. Housed in the center of Opels Rüsselsheim campus next to the existing design center building - in what was previously the 'Opel Live' complex - the transformed building expands Opel's design operations to nearly 20,000 square-meters. Opel’s new design philosophy is called sculptural artistry combined with German precision. Mark Adams is Vice President of Design for Opel.

Some 1,016 million Opel/Vauxhall cars, commercial vehicles and component sets were produced in 2009.

The company has eliminated the former GM Europe management structure in Zurich, Switzerland, and is now managed from the Opel brand headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

The company maintained a 2009 market share of 7.59 percent in Western Europe. Opel increased its market share and regained the number two position in its German home market, while Vauxhall remained number two in the United Kingdom. Sales of the Opel Insignia – European Car of the Year 2009 – jumped to 160,000 in 2009. In Europe, the Opel Insignia is the leader in the medium sedan segment. The new Astra won the European Golden Steering Wheel award (Goldenes Lenkrad) and several other awards even prior to its market introduction. More than 75,000 orders for the five-door version have already been placed.

The DEKRA vehicle monitoring organization reported Corsa had the lowest breakdown rate of all cars on the market in Germany. Despite a 16 percent reduction in volume, the company still was able to reduce Hours per Vehicle by four percent. Opel for the first time reported less than 20 HPV – an industry milestone only achieved by two other companies.

Opel Employees and Production in Europe

Since 15 January 2010 is Nick Reilly the chairman of the Adam Opel GmbH. Part of the tasks of the former Opel CEO Hans Demant has Rita Forst, at the same time as the new head of development orders accepted.

Production site Production since Products Comments Employees
Rüsselsheim, Germany 1898 Insignia, Regal, Transmissions Int.Technical Development Center (ITDC)
Headquarters of Adam Opel GmbH
Bochum, Germany 1962 Zafira 5,170
Kaiserslautern, Germany 1966 Components, Engines 3,300
Eisenach, Germany 1990 Corsa 1,800
Ellesmere Port, UK 1963 Astra 2.200
Luton, UK 1905 Vivaro Headquarters of Vauxhall Motors
Zaragoza, Spain 1982 Corsa, Meriva, Combo 7.200
Gliwice, Poland 1998 Astra 2.800
Aspern, Austria 1982 Engines, Transmissions 1.600
St. Gotthard, Hungary Engines, Transmissions 700
Antwerpen, Belgium Astra

Zeppelin 1937 logo

The first Opel logo after the founding of the company consisted of the squiggly letters A and O, the initials of Adam Opel. The A was in bronze, the O kept in red.

Starting in 1886, was then seen, inter alia, the goddess of Victory Victoria and a cyclist on the logo. This image was surrounded by the inscription "Victoria Blitz", the name of one of the first Opel bicycles]]. From 1909 the name became the logo. A spirited Opel name in gold adorned the motorcycles and cars. A year later, the logo was again changed. From now on, we saw a blue, surrounded by laurels eye, which contained the words "Opel" in capital letters (uppercase).

By 1935, they introduced a stylized Zeppelin, symbolizes the progress, surrounded by a yellow ring, which is supposed to represent a wheel. The Zeppelin also occurred as a hood ornament, for example at the Olympia. As of 1950, another logo was used, but can not find this on the vehicles, but was intended for the dealer organization. Be seen on a yellow on one half, the other white oval was the Opel logo.

In the 1960s changed the Zeppelin increasingly to flash. Officially, the Lightning since 1963, the logo of Opel. In 1970, the logo of the dealer organization was again changed to see the flash with a ring on a yellow rectangle to see the lettering below the "Opel" was about. The official logo was surrounded by a black rectangle, and found primarily on printed materials used. In 1987, the Opel logo then modernized.

On the vehicles himself had since the 1960s, however, always see only the Opel logo without typography, again and again in different materials (in shape or size characters), and proportions, even at the same time produced models. The production of a single CI is the longest time at Opel have not been consistently followed.

The 2007 study presented shows the current GTC Concept Opel logo was engraved into the top ring of the lettering on "Opel". The Insignia has a single model since 2008 also has this logo.

Opel Performance Center

Opel established Opel Performance Center GmbH (OPC) in 1997. The first OPC car, an Astra 2.0 liter with naturally aspirated engine developing 118 kW/160 hp, sold out all 3,000 limited edition units within four months when it was launched in 1999. Since then more than 50,000 of these high performance cars have been sold in a variety of models, ranging from Corsa OPC to Zafira OPC.

Opel was the first brand to offer a high performance variant on a van when it launched a 2-liter Turbo Zafira OPC with 192 hp in 2001. More than 12,000 units of that sporty Zafira generation were sold.

The most popular OPC car was the Opel Corsa OPC in 2008, with its 1.6-liter Turbo engine and 141 kW/192 hp. This small car accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds and can hit a top speed of 225 km/h. The maximum torque of up to 266 Nm with overboost is delivered to the front wheels by a standard six-speed transmission.

The Green Hell

In the last six years, OPC vehicles have broken a string of records on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife 20.8 km track. The Astra OPC did it first in 8:35:94 in 2005. The Zafira OPC still holds the title fastest van for its 8:54:38 time made in 2006. The Corsa OPC holds the title for small car: 8:47:99 in a standard production model driven by Manuel Reuter in 2007. Moreover, all OPC cars have passed rigorous endurance tests on the Green Hell, considered the toughest and most demanding race track in the world.

The Nordschleife is the spot where Opel cars have endured their most rigorous testing since the 1960s. Four years ago, the Rüsselsheim automaker signed a partner contract with the legendary race track and opened its own test center directly at the ring.

It is the ideal test spot for all Opel products – and the toughest for OPC models: The Insignia OPC underwent 10,000 kilometers of endurance testing there and passed with no faults.

OPC Race Camp

To ensure driving skills match the car’s performance, Opel offers exclusive one-day OPC performance training seminars to private customers at the Opel test center in Dudenhofen, Germany. Led by two-time Le Mans champion Manuel Reuter, drivers have a chance to hone their skills and discover the true potential of their OPC cars.

For the last three years, Opel has run an Astra OPC Race Camp, a wildly successful race driver casting competition in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The OPC Race Camp offers drivers with no motor sport experience the chance to test and develop their racing talent during rigorous training sessions and numerous elimination rounds.

Currently 10 candidates remain from a total of 22,000 applicants. The candidates are taking part in the second year of the program led by Manuel Reuter and Joachim Winkelhock. Each hopes to land one of the coveted spots on the driver team for the two Astra racing cars that participate in the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring this year.

The brand has offered OPC Line packages since 2004 created by the same Opel designers in charge of all OPC models that include such items as rocker moldings and a rear spoiler.


In 1996, the DTM was completely replaced by the ITC. Six events were held in Germany, the remaining races were held throughout Europe and even overseas. Manuel Reuter won the title in the Opel Calibra V6. As the costs for the technically complex Class 1 cars increased too steeply, Opel and Alfa Romeo announced their withdrawal at the season’s end.

Opel plan for the future

In addition, the company has accelerated efforts to introduce an entry in the sub-Corsa segment and to make a strong push in the light commercial vehicle business. Several studies are under way to look at possible profitable export programs in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

In order to support this vision, the company has sharpened and refined its brand DNA and product pillars, and is embarking on a program that ensures this DNA is engrained in every future Opel product. Future products will be developed in Rüsselsheim at the International Technical Development Center. If they are based on a vehicle architecture developed elsewhere, they will return to Rüsselsheim early to ensure they deliver on the Opel brand promise.

The viability plan requires long-term funding of €3.3 billion to run the business during the transformation. In total, the company plans to invest approximately €11 billion over the next five years.

General Motors will contribute a substantial €1.9 billion funding package as part of its commitment to the European viability plan, more than tripling its previous investment pledge of €600 million.

Unveiling the increased funding package, Nick Reilly, CEO of Opel, said the GM contribution would be made in the form of both equity and loans.

Under its viability plan, Opel had estimated funding requirements of €3.3 billion. However, an additional €415 million had been requested by the respective European governments to offset the potential impact of adverse market developments.

In a vote of confidence in Opel’s long-term business strength, GM will now contribute more than 50 percent of the overall funding requirements. As a result, the requested total of loan guarantees from European governments will decline from €2.7 billion to under €2 billion. This commitment by GM removes any potential liquidity risks during the restructuring this year.

The business plan foresees Opel will break even by 2011 and be profitable by 2012. It is predicated on economic forecasts that 13.4 million cars will be sold in Western Europe this year – a reduction of more than 20 percent from 2007. Opel does not believe the market will come back to the levels seen earlier in this century for quite some time.

To adjust to the current and forecasted market environment, Opel will reduce its capacity by approximately 20 percent. This requires a job level reduction of approximately 8,300. That reduction will be spread out across most of Europe and includes 1,300 employees in sales and administration and 7,000 jobs in manufacturing. This includes the intent to close the Opel production facility in Antwerp, Belgium, as previously announced.

Once the capacity reduction is implemented, the company is expected to run at approximately 112 percent of its capacity on a two-shift basis and 87 percent on a three-shift basis and therefore has – along with other potential measures – sufficient upside potential once the market starts to recover.

Clubs with the name Opel

The SC Opel Rüsselsheim is a soccer club with about 450 members from Rüsselsheim, which combines a checkered history with the company Opel. The RV 1888 Opel Rüsselsheim is a cycling club.


The Opel Marketing Team is headquartered in Rüsselsheim and develops strategic marketing concepts. The team is lead by Allain Visser, Vice President of Opel Marketing, Sales and After-Sales.


Opel's corporate tagline is Wir leben Autos, meaning “We live cars”. The German-language tagline is used in many European countries.[21]

What “Wir Leben Autos” means

The »Wir« (We) stands for the excitement and affirmative, positive attitude of the employees and dealers – a great starting point for the development of intelligent, surprising and innovative products they supply to their customers.

The word »leben« (live) embodies the high level of energy at Opel. It is a vitality which anyone who has experienced an Opel can feel through the variety of practical functions, exciting innovations and fascinating, dynamic design.

Finally, the »Autos« (cars) have become an essential part of their lives. They combine their personal experiences with that of their customers in order to make their daily mobility simpler and more comfortable.

Marketing with fictitious band

Opel operates one of the first car manufacturer "viral marketing" with the fictional band the C.M.O.N.S. The band consists of the characters White, Red and Blue (male), and Moo and Cherri (female). They were designed by the German artist living in Barcelona, Boris Hoppek. The music is from the (real existing) band, The Outcomes.

On the C.M.O.N.S. drew attention, inter alia, poster campaigns and contributions in online communities like YouTube and MySpace. Particularly noteworthy is the collaboration with MTV. Meanwhile Opel use the C.M.O.N.S. directly for the Corsa publicity. Opel was the sponsor of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006, 2 November 2006 and the Corsa was the "official car" of the event.


Opel was the most successful sponsor of soccer shirts in Europe. In 2001, over 70 percent of Germans questioned knew that Opel was the sponsor of Bayern Munich. The survey, which was completed before Bayern Munich won the European Championships, also showed that Opel has pan-European influence. Up to 20 percent of the French population, ten percent of the Spanish and nine percent of the British knew that Opel sponsored Bayern Munich. Opel’s sponsorship of Paris St. Germain was recognised by nearly a third of French people and a fifth of French people questioned for the review. And its sponsorship of Italian club AC Milan was known by over 40 percent of Italians, 20 percent of Germans and over 10 percent of French.

Models for other countries

Many cars sold by General Motors worldwide are Opel engineered vehicles, including such models as the Astra, Corsa, Insignia and Zafira. Opel models are also sold under other GM brand names, such as Vauxhall Motors in the UK, Buick in China and North America and Chevrolet in Latin America. Its Zafira people carrier was sold in Australia badged as a Holden Zafira, while the Astra was sold in the US as the Saturn Astra for model years 2008 to 2009. Other Opel based or slightly modified models sold in the US, include the Buick LaCrosse, Regal, and Chevrolet Cruze.

Opels appeared under their own name in the USA from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports. The best-selling Opel models in the US were the 1964–1972 Opel Kadett, the 1971–1975 Opel Manta, and the now-classic 1968-1973 Opel GT.[22][23] (The name "Opel" was also applied from 1976 to 1980 on vehicles manufactured by Isuzu (similar to the "Isuzu I-mark"), but mechanically those were entirely different cars).

Electric vehicles

Opel Ampera at the 2009 79th Frankfurt Auto Show

Opel Ampera

At the 2009 79th Frankfurt Auto Show Opel showed the Ampera.

It will also be offered with right-hand drive in the United Kingdom by Opel’s sister-brand, Vauxhall.

The five-door, four-seat Opel Ampera uses the propulsion technology called Voltec which operates differently from other advanced propulsion system. This extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) uses electricity as its primary power source and gasoline as a secondary power source to generate electricity.

The Ampera’s wheels are turned electrically at all times and speeds. For journeys up to 60 km (MVEG), it runs exclusively on electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, and emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is low, electricity from an engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km. The Ampera can also be plugged into any household 230v outlet for charging.

Opel’s extended range electric vehicle is announced to go into production in late 2011.

It can be plugged into any household 230v outlet for charging. Opel is analyzing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain.

Opel Flextreme GT/E Concept

Opel Flextreme GT/E at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show

In Opel’s strategy for achieving more independence from fossil fuels, electricity plays a key role. The 4.7-meter long Flextreme GT/E concept illustrates how extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) technology can be plugged into large or mid-size vehicles, as well as compact cars such as the upcoming Ampera.

Opel calls this strategy e-mobility unlimited: adapting the highly efficient E-REV drive system – which removes the limitations of battery-only power – to vehicles across all market segments. To enjoy zero CO2 driving emissions Opel-style, the Flextreme GT/E concept shows that size doesn’t matter.

The purposeful design also enables the Flextreme GT/E to achieve a projected drag co-efficient of just 0.22, which helps it reach a 200 km/h-plus top speed as well as conserve energy and extend its driving range. Stand-out visual features include a low and wide stance, wing-shaped lights front and rear, a distinctive nose and grille, floating C-pillars and muscular, sculptured bodywork.

Despite its greater size and a maximum speed of more than 200 kilometers per hour, the Flextreme GT/E is projected to offer performance similar to that of the Ampera: a battery-powered driving range of up to 60 km – with zero CO2 tailpipe emissions – and a total range of more than 500 km. Average fuel consumption is estimated at 1.6 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions of less than 40 g/km.

Unlike a hybrid vehicle, the wheels of the Flextreme GT/E are powered at all times by electricity. For typical journeys up to 60 km, energy is supplied by a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack located under the floor and rear seat.

However, unlike a battery-only electric vehicle, the Flextreme GT/E eliminates any possibility of range anxiety through fear of being stranded without power. The small gasoline engine/generator is seamlessly engaged to provide electricity whenever the battery’s supply becomes depleted. In this mode, the driving range is extended to more than 500 km, until the plug-in battery pack can be recharged or the car is refueled.

The motor in the electric drive unit delivers a substantial 370 Nm of instant torque, giving lively performance and projected zero to 100 km/h acceleration in less than nine seconds.

Model Lineup

Opel Agila Opel Ampera Opel Antara Opel Astra Opel Corsa Opel Insignia Opel Meriva Opel Zafira Opel Combo Opel Vivaro Opel Movano
2000–Present 2011–Present 2006–Present 1991–Present 1982–Present 2008–Present 2002–Present 1999–Present 1994–Present 2001–Present 2003–Present

OPC Models


Opel Astra OPC Opel Zafira OPC Opel Corsa OPC Opel Insignia OPC
1999–Present 2001–Present 2007–Present 2009–Present

Image gallery


  • 1863 - Adam Opel founded Opel.
  • 1899 - First Opel automobile patent: reverse gear in patented motor car, Lutzmann system.
  • 1909 - Opel makes the automobile affordable with the "Doctor's Car", which is sold at half the price (3,950 marks) of competitors' luxury models.
  • 1910 - Introduction of the modular construction system at Opel. Now, prefabricated car bodies can be combined with different engines and chassis.
  • 1924 - Opel is the first German manufacturer to adopt assembly-line manufacturing methods that enable volume production.
  • 1928 - Opel builds RAK 1 and RAK 2. RAK 2 has 24 solid fuel rockets that catapult the vehicle to an amazing 238 km/h, setting a new world record.
  • 1929 - Adam Opel AG in Rüsselsheim, Germany, is acquired.
  • 1931 - Opel is the first manufacturer to set up a customer service school.
  • 1935 - Opel Olympia is the first German large-volume vehicle with self-bearing whole-steel body.
  • 1940 - Opel production is suspended through the war years.
  • 1950 - The Opel plant in Rüsselsheim is completely rebuilt.
  • 1962 - Inauguration of the second Opel plant in Bochum, Germany.
  • 1965 - The Opel Experimental GT is the first concept car of a European automobile manufacturer and the first concept car to go into production (in 1968).
  • 1967 - Inauguration of the Opel Belgium plant in Antwerp.
  • 1976 - Opel patent: cavity in piston head reduces noise in diesel engines.
  • 1982 - New assembly plant opens in Zaragoza, Spain, to produce the Opel Corsa.
  • 1984 - The Kadett GSi is the most streamlined car in its class, at 0.30cd.
  • 1989 - Opel is the first European manufacturer to offer catalytic converters on all gasoline models.
  • 1992 - New Opel plant opens in Eisenach, Germany.
  • 1993 - Opel patent: a "metal protection sheet" integrated into the backrest of the seats forms a rigid barrier.
  • 1994 - Opel patent: special process for separation of oil-in-water emulsions.
  • 1995 - Corsa Eco3 is the first ready-to-drive 3-liter per 100 km car in the world.
  • 1996 - New engine plant in Kaiserslautern, Germany, begins production. Opel and Renault sign cooperation agreement in light commercial vehicle sector.
  • 1998 - Inauguration of new Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim. Inauguration of new Opel plant in Gliwice, Poland.
  • 1999 - Opel celebrates 100 years of car production on January 21. Flex7 seating system in the Opel Zafira.
  • 2002 - Production of new Vectra starts at Opel's state-of-the-art facility in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
  • 2007 - Opel introduces low-emission ecoFlex variants of its volume model lines. Opel engineers developing mechatronic chassis, that makes driving safer and more comfortable.
  • 2008 - Opel Eye is introduced in Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.
  • 2009 - Opel Ampera is unveiled at Geneva Motor Show.
  • 2009 - Opel Astra all-new model launch.
  • 2010 - New Opel Movano van will be launched in mid-2010.
  • 2010 - Opel will unveil its Flextreme GT/E concept car at the 80th Geneva Motor Show.
  • 2011 - The Opel Ampera will be Opel's first Electric Car.

See also


  1. ^ Informationen zu Opel
  2. ^ "Lutzmann". Cartype. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  3. ^ "DETNEWS | Weblogs | Autos Blog". 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  4. ^ "Germany picks Magna to save Opel". BBC News. May 30, 2009. 
  5. ^ Weber, Tim (May 30, 2009). "Analysis: Opel's survival still at stake". BBC News. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Magna says can't sell Opel cars in U.S., China". Reuters. 06-02-2009. 
  8. ^ Sandler, Linda; Chris Scinta, Bob Van Voris & Jeff Green (June 1, 2009). "GM Files Bankruptcy to Spin Off More Competitive Firm (Update4)". (Bloomberg LP). Retrieved June 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ Sanger, David E.; Jeff Zeleny & Bill Vlasic (May 31, 2009). "G.M. to Seek Bankruptcy and a New Start: A Risky Bet to Save an Icon of American Capitalism url =". New York Times. 
  10. ^ Sanger, David E. (May 31 2009). "G.M. to Seek Bankruptcy and a New Start". New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2009. 
  11. ^ Maynard, Micheline (May 29, 2009). "After 93 Years, G.M. Shares Go Out on a Low Note". New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2009. 
  12. ^ Weber, Jeremy (2009-05-17). "Report: Magna considers using Opel to build cars for other brands". MotorAuthority. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  13. ^ "GM receives three bids for Opel". BBC News. 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  14. ^ "Beijing Auto fails in bid for GM's Opel". Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  15. ^ GM 'still intends to sell Opel' BBC News. 25 August 2009
  16. ^ RHJ raises bid for carmaker Opel BBC News. 2 September 2009
  17. ^ "Opel and Vauxhall to go to Magna". BBC News. 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  18. ^ Vlasic, Bill (November 3, 2009). "G.M. Decides to Keep Opel, Its European Unit". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  19. ^ Opel ‘will be brand name to attract Russian buyers’, The Times. June 1, 2009.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Opel Club
  23. ^ Opel GT

External links

Opel at the Open Directory Project

Simple English

Opel, full name Adam Opel AG, is an automobile maker in Germany, founded in 1862. Since 1929, Opel is the german brand of the american automaker General Motors. Opel has about 40,000 workers. The company headquarters are located in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Other german plants are in Bochum, Eisenach, and Kaiserslautern. In Great Britain, Opel cars are called Vauxhall.

Car models

Passenger cars: Agila | Antara | Ampera | Astra | Corsa | Insignia | Meriva | Zafira

Commercial cars: Movano | Vivaro | Combo

Concept cars: Aero GT | Antara GTC | CD | Diesel Rekordwagen | Eco Speedster | Frogster | Frua Diplomat | G90 | GT 2 | Insignia | Maxx | OPC X-Treme | Snowtrekker | Trixx

Historic cars: Admiral | Ascona | Blitz | Calibra | Commodore | Diplomat | Frontera | GT | Kadett | Kapitän | Manta | Monterey | Monza | Olympia | Omega | Rekord | Senator | Signum | Sintra | Speedster | Tigra | Vectra

Other websites

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