Ford of Europe has its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and a large part of its European production and product development are in the country. The company had thought it was a key part of Germany's automotive landscape just like Opel.
But the German government's rescue of Opel in May with a 1.5 billion euro bridge loan when its owner General Motors Co. went into short-lived bankruptcy brought a bitter realization to Ford of Europe's executives.
“We thought we stood at the same level as Opel. In recent months, we've recognized that nobody would have helped us in this way even though we have a similar tradition and position in Germany,” executives told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung off the record.
Opel was founded in Ruesselsheim in 1863 and was bought by GM in 1929.
Ford opened its first factory outside North America in 1911, at Trafford Park in Manchester, England. The U.K. was the U.S carmaker's longtime headquarters. In 1999, Ford of Europe decided to centralize its European administration in Cologne to be closer to emerging markets in eastern Europe.
Ten years later, Germans still haven't grown to regard Ford as a home brand like they do with Opel.
Ford now plans to highlight its “Made in Germany” characteristics more prominently in its marketing in the future.
Now the question is: Will anyone notice?