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Solar company announces bid for General Motors subsidiary Opel

November 19, 2008 | | 212100786
In the wake of the financial crisis, General Motors is in trouble and so is its German subsidiary Adam Opel AG, one of Europe's largest car makers. Now photovoltaics vendor Solarworld AG (Bonn, Germany) has announced to submit a takeover bid for Opel. Solarworld intends to create the first "green" automotive OEM.

MUNICH, Germany — In the wake of the financial crisis, General Motors is in trouble and so is its German subsidiary Adam Opel AG, one of Europe's largest car makers. Now photovoltaics vendor Solarworld AG (Bonn, Germany) has submitted a takeover bid for Opel. Solarworld intends to create the first "green" automotive OEM.

Solarworld has contacted General Motors with the surprising offer to take over Opel's four German factories plus its design center, based in Ruesselsheim near Frankfurt. The PV system vendor offers to pay for the acquisition the sum of € 250 million (about $315 million) plus bank lines of € 750 million. Beneficiary of the sum would be Opel. Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck said he intends to develop Opel as the first truly "green" European car maker.

The PV systems vendor said he plans to develop and manufacture a new generation of energy-efficient low-emission vehicles. Opel's European design center has already been involved in the design of the Chevrolet Volt, GM's first electrically-driven car which however is not yet in serial production. Opel could convert its product spectrum and focus on electric and hybrid drive vehicles including extended range electric vehicles, the company said.

The Chevrolet Volt is equipped with such a system in which an electric motor drives the car; for long distances, the batteries are constantly recharged by an emission- and fuel-optimized internal combustion engine, a so called range extender.

Solarworld pointed out that in a similar case some years ago it already has taken over an infrastructure company and managed it to become profitable when it acquired the solar business of oil concern Shell.

Solarworld also maintains further activities in the USA, The company claims to be North America's largest solar cell manufacturer.

"Sustainability is a holistic concept," said Asbeck. "Climate protection and market challenges can only be mastered through a transition of conventional automotive to solar-driven 'sunmotive' concepts."

The company also pointed out that it is involved in the development and trials of electric cars which are driven by solar energy.

Solarworld was not available for comment. Similarly, Opel refused to comment on the topic. Currently there is an intensive debate in the German public over state aids for the struggling car vendor. An Opel Spokesperson said that officially the company has not yet been contacted by Solarworld. "We are working on a statement," he said.










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