Canadian parts maker Magna International has reached an agreement with General Motors to acquire a majority stake in the automaker’s Opel division. This development puts an end to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s desire to acquire the German brand and, thus, create the world’s second-largest automotive group – a group that includes U.S. automaker Chrysler.
The German government, which has agreed to provide Opel with billions of euros in aid, has approved the deal between GM and Manga. However, Siegfried Wolf, co-chief executive of Magna, warned that there were still details that needed to be ironed out, such as a contract with GM and its new owners. “In five weeks’ time we should have the formal signing of the contract,” he said.
It was Magna’s willingness to put forward bridging finance that placed it in a better position than Fiat. Magna and GM have signed a memorandum of understanding that will reportedly help Opel secure some 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in bridge loans, as well as shore up protections against creditors in the event of a GM bankruptcy. Fiat felt that the German government’s request for additional funds was unreasonable.
The deal reportedly calls for Magna to invest between 500-700 million euros into Opel. Magna’s bid is backed by Russia’s state-run Sberbank and truck maker GAZ. Both parties want to use Opel to gain 20% of the Russian market in the short-run.
Although GM will no longer be the majority shareholder of Opel, it will still hold on to a 35% stake. Russia’s Sberbank will hold another 35%, while Magna and Opel’s employees will hold 20% and 10%, respectively. Russian truck-maker GAZ will get no shares, and will act as some kind of a strategic partner.
As for Opel’s plants and factories, the German government said it wanted to preserve as many jobs as possible — in Germany, that is. However, there are talks about cutting 10,000 jobs, achievable through natural attrition. In regards to the Vauxhall brand, Opel’s twin, U.K. Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said that Magna had made it clear that production at its plants would continue.
African Company Mobius Makes World’s Cheapest SUV [Video]
Conjure up an image of the world’s cheapest SUV and Mobius Motors will likely be the last company on your mind, but this is a company on a mission. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, it has spent most of its existence trying to put Africa on wheels.
The Mobius Two is the company’s second attempt at an ultra-affordable SUV. To keep weight down, its body is built from aluminum and carbon fiber. To make repairs easy, its simple construction consists of a tubular steel platform that can be welded back together when broken. The engine, likely to be a Toyota-sourced four-cylinder gasoline engine, is said to be familiar to local mechanics and light on gas.
With an expected price-tag of $6,000, this SUV is bare bone and strictly about getting from point A to point B. You’d be barking up the wrong tree if you like your ride to be stylish and to have air conditioning or glass side windows. Instead, what you get is a very roomy vehicle that can seat up to six to eight adults, depending on the configuration, and haul up to 1,100 pounds.
Affordable, durable and versatile — this SUV looks to be just right for the rural parts of Africa and even the cities.
Mazda and Fiat Team-up to Develop New Roadster
We here at FbaPPs have argued that the Fiat / Chrysler alliance is in need of a third partner to ensure its long-term viability, and have speculated that Mazda could be that likely candidate. With the announcement that Fiat and the Japanese automaker will teamed-up to work on an all-new roadster, we think this might be the beginning of a long-term relationship.
The non-binding Memorandum of Understanding between the two automakers calls for the development of a new rear-wheel-drive roadster based on the next-generation MX-5 (Miata) for Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand and for Mazda. The two models will be distinctly differentiated by brand-specific design-themes, as well as their own proprietary engines. Despite their differences, both will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant.
“This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand. By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition. We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship.” said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
According to reports, the Alfa Romeo version, which is expected to go on sale in 2015, will revive the classic Alfa Romeo Spider. A design study of the Spider is pictured above.
All-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Pictures Revealed
Hyundai has released two computer-generated pictures of the all-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe crossover ahead of its official debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Judging from the pictures, the new Santa Fe looks to adopt the Korean automaker’s Fluidic Sculpture design theme, although things have been toned-down relative to what we see on cars such as the Hyundai Tuscon, Sonata and Elantra.
As a matter of fact, Hyundai calls the new design “Storm Edge,” saying it’s an evolution of the “Fluidic Sculpture” theme. A sporty, more aggressive look suggests that the Santa Fe will go upscale to better compete with the likes of the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
There is little indication that the new Santa Fe will feature a two-row or three-row setup, but with the New York Auto Show just one month away, we won’t have to wait long to find out.