Why Opel matters

DETROIT -- In general, auto-industry folks in North America have yawned at the problems of GM's Opel unit in Europe.

Americans and Canadians were slightly intrigued when it looked like GM might sell Opel, say, to Canadian supplier Magna, but then lost interest when the deal fell through and GM was left with a money-losing operation it had to turn around.

Kim Korth, president of consulting firm IRN Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., today summed up why Opel matters.

“Opel is their car division,” Korth told the Society of Automotive Analysts today. “Whether they make a ton of money doesn't matter.”

GM will figure out how to turn Opel around because it needs it profitable, even if not wildly so, she said.

Makes sense. GM North America is in charge of light trucks. GM Europe, i.e. Opel, along with the GM-Daewoo unit in Korea, is in charge of passenger cars.

When you look at it that way, GM's dealers and suppliers in North America should be a lot more interested in Opel's fortunes.