Opel Automobile GmbH (German pronunciation: [ˈoːpl̩]) is a German automobile manufacturer, a subsidiary of French automaker Groupe PSA since August 2017. From 1929 until 2017, Opel was owned by American automaker General Motors. Opel vehicles are sold in Great Britain under the Vauxhall brand. Some Opel vehicles are badge-engineered in Australia under the Holden brand, and in North America and China under the Buick, Saturn, and Cadillac brands.

Opel Automobile GmbH
Founded21 January 1862 (1862-01-21)[1]
FounderAdam Opel
Number of locations
10 manufacturing facilities
Area served
South America[2](pp. 40, 41)
Key people
  • Michael Lohscheller (CEO)
Electric vehicles
Commercial vehicle
Production output
1.2 million vehicles (2016)[3]
Revenue $18.7 billion (2016)[4]
Number of employees
37,000 (2017)[3]
ParentGeneral Motors (1929–2017)
Groupe PSA (2017–present)[1]
DivisionsOpel Performance Center[5]
SubsidiariesOpel Eisenach
Opel Special Vehicles[6](Exhibit 21)

Opel traces its roots to a sewing machine manufacturer founded by Adam Opel in 1862 in Rüsselsheim am Main. The company began manufacturing bicycles in 1886 and produced its first automobile in 1899. After listing on the stock market in 1929, General Motors took a majority stake in Opel and then full control in 1931, establishing the American reign over the German automaker for nearly 90 years.[1]

In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to acquire Opel from General Motors for €2.2 billion, making the French automaker the second biggest in Europe, after Volkswagen.[7]

Opel is headquartered in Rüsselsheim am Main, Hesse, Germany. The company designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes Opel-branded passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and vehicle parts and together with its English sister brand Vauxhall they are present in over 60 countries around the world.[8]



The company was founded in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany, on 21 January 1862, by Adam Opel. In the beginning, Opel produced sewing machines. In 1888, production was relocated from a cowshed to a more spacious building in Rüsselsheim. Opel[9] launched a new product in 1886: he began to sell high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings. Opel's two sons participated in high-wheel bicycle races, thus promoting this means of transportation. The production of high-wheel bicycles soon exceeded the production of sewing machines.[10] At the time of Opel's death in 1895, he was the leader in both markets.


The first cars were designed in 1898 after Opel's widow Sophie and their two eldest 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.[11][12] The first Opel production Patent Motor Car was built in Rüsselsheim early 1899, although These cars were not very successful (A total of 65 motor cars were delivered: [15] 11 in 1899, 24 copies in 1900 and 30 in 1901) and the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel signed a licensing agreement in 1901 with the French Automobiles Darracq France to manufacture vehicles under the brand name Opel Darracq. These cars consisted of Opel bodies mounted on Darracq chassis, powered by two-cylinder engines.

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.[13][14]

In 1909, the Opel 4/8 PS model, known as the Doktorwagen ("Doctor's Car") was produced. Its reliability and robustness were appreciated by physicians, who drove long distances to see their patients back when hard-surfaced roads were still rare. The Doktorwagen 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.


In the early 1920s, 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 (Tree frog). The Laubfrosch was finished exclusively in green lacquer. The car sold for an expensive 3,900 marks (expensive considering the less expensive manufacturing process), but by the 1930s, this type of vehicle would cost a mere 1,930 marks – due in part to the assembly line, but also due to the skyrocketing demand for cars. Adam Opel led the way for motorised transportation to become not just a means for the rich, but also 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 (GM), 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, during 1935, a second factory was built at Brandenburg for the production of "Blitz" light trucks. In 1929 Opel licensed design of the radical Neander motorcycle, and produced it as the Opel Motoclub in 1929 and 1930, using Küchen, J.A.P., and Motosacoche engines. Fritz von Opel famously attached solid-fuel rockets to his Motoclub in a publicity stunt, riding the rocket-boosted motorcycle at the Avus racetrack[15].

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 the car had a 23 hp (17 kW) 1.1 L four-cylinder engine and a top speed of 85 km/h (53 mph).

Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle in Germany with a self-supporting ("unibody") all-steel body, closely following the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant. This was one of the most important innovations in automotive history.[16] They called the car, launched in 1935, the Olympia. With its small weight and aerodynamics came an improvement in both performance and fuel consumption. Opel received a patent on this technology.

The 1930s was a decade of growth, and by 1937, with 130,267 cars produced, Opel's Rüsselsheim plant was Europe's top car plant in terms of output, while ranking seventh worldwide.[17]

1938 saw the presentation of the highly successful Kapitän. With a 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating (with electric blower), and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before the intensification of World War II brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn of 1940, by order of the government.

World War II

World War II brought to Rüsselsheim the only year in the history of Opel – 1945 – in which it produced fewer vehicles since that first Lutzmann-authored Opel was made in 1899. 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 1930s had powerfully fertilised the growth of this and other auto companies, but in the case of Opel, at least, the expansion of this industrial machine clearly was not directed in any way toward military objectives.

Opel's relationship to GM in America during the war has been disputed. Alfred P. Sloan's memoir indicates that when the war started, as Germany nationalised many foreign-owned industrial assets, GM's contract with Opel was broken and remained that way for the rest of the war. Other writers have alleged that even after June 1940, official connections between Opel and America were not broken, and monetary gain by Americans continued throughout the war.

During the 1930s, the Rüsselsheim plant was never given a major role in Germany's war preparations. Neither was Ford's plant in Cologne considered trustworthy enough for a big assignment, such as tank manufacture, in view of their earlier foreign associations. Initially, of course, the war was thought to be a short one settled in Germany's favour. Auto plants were shut down, to conserve resources, but not converted to other jobs. As was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labour of deported civilians and Soviet POWs was utilized in the Opel factories.

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, with Opel taking up the production of aircraft parts and tanks. Only at the Brandenburg plant did truck manufacture roar ahead at full speed. From the end of 1938 onward, the big Opel Blitz trucks had been powered by the same basic 3.6 L engine used in the Opel Admiral. To meet the growing demands of wartime, 3 short tons (2.7 t) 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 blend of a tractor and a motorcycle, was powered with a 1.4 L 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 theatres of the 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, even less fuel was 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 L 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 aluminium finned heads, each serving two cylinders. Of this interesting engine, which developed 72 hp (54 kW; 73 PS) at 3,000 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 Jumo aircraft engine. Special methods had to be developed to fabricate this vital assembly from very thin sheets of aluminium. With work like this going on, Germany's enemies naturally took note of the various Opel plants, and starting in August 1944, began attacking them by air. Destruction was heavy at both Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg from the attacks by Allied bombers. Never was the outlook bleaker at Adam Opel AG than in the first months of 1945.

Opel had been transformed and rebuilt before. Beyond the efforts of the company's staff, very little was functioning in the factories and plants. Many of the tools with which they once had worked were gone. The Brandenburg truck plant fell into the Soviet 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 – were dismantled and shipped to a site near the Ural mountains.

Cars and 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 Soviet-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 seemed to be the Opel Kadett in every detail, with only the name changed (various sources provide contradictory information; see the respective article). By late 1950, the Soviets were exporting these Kremlin Kadetts to Belgium, stressing in their promotion that spare parts could easily be obtained from Germany. A Moskvitch model that bore no trace of Opel engineering was not introduced until 1959, 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 the Soviet Union. GM had no say in these discussions and was not sure just what posture to take toward its 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 were not 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 collaborative nature of its workers. They were not itinerant hires 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 country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG. The fate of Opel was important to its workers, 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.


After the end of the war, with the Brandenburg plant dismantled and transported to the Soviet Union, and 47% of the buildings in Rüsselsheim destroyed,[18] former Opel employees began to rebuild the 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 1.5-short-ton (1.4 t) truck powered by the 2.5 L Kapitän engine. It was a minor miracle that even this was possible. By January 1946, the plant was ready to build trucks, but many of the almost 12,000 parts needed to make each one was lacking. Before the big firms could begin, the small ones had to get started, too. Illness and poor nutrition so crippled the staff of 6,000 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 15 July 1946 in the presence of United States Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters.[18] 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 26 July. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, and 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 Kapitän first since its engine was already in production for the truck, but occupation regulations restricted German civilians to cars of 1.5 L 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 and the steering was correspondingly rearranged.

Announced in November 1947, production of the postwar Olympia, with austere painted hubcaps, began in December 1947 and allowed a modest return to export sales in that year. In October 1948, the Kapitän came back to the Opel line-up, 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 Kapitän and 6,785 DM for the Olympia (the Deutschmark having replaced the Reichsmark on 20 June 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 26 March recommending that General Motors resume control of Opel. On 5 April, however, GM's financial policy committee concluded, "in view of the many uncertainties surrounding the operation of this property, the Corporation is not justified in resuming the responsibility for its operation at this time..." GM, it seemed, did not want Opel.

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., and Charles Erwin Wilson ("Engine Charlie" Wilson), GM's president, were considering the options. 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 3 May to the GM financial policy committee, which then withdrew its objections to a return to Rüsselsheim. 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 1 November 1948; GM 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, in partnership with Gaston de Wolff, who was given the specially created title of Assistant to the Chairman of GM Overseas. de Wolff oversaw the daily operations of the German plants as well as all government relations, worksmans councils (Betriebsräte), and other domestic operations, while Zdunek - who could not speak a word of German - managed all interface with GM corporate. Under German law, Gaston de Wolff was the Acting Chairman of the Board of Opel, and reported to a Senior Vice President within The General Motors Corporation, Ed Zdunek. In this way, Opel remained a foreign entity, from a tax perspective - a very controversial arrangement, given that Volkswagen and Mercedes were strictly German, and therefore subject to taxes that the German subsidiary business unit of an American company would not be subject.

The appointment of Zdunek and de Wolff to their posts was a move of special significance, though. An experienced motor industry executive, Zdunek reportedly was most respected by those who worked for him, and de Wolff was himself a highly respected executive in the German auto industry, having previously worked his way up the ranks in Opel's Sales and Marketing divisions. Ed Zdunek and Gaston de Wolff were regarded as the perfect duo to guide Opel through this difficult environment of postwar Germany. Having worked together since 1940, they continued in this unique yet critical new tandem role until 1961.

Changes in the Opel cars under GM's management did not appear until January 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 emphasised high torque at low engine speeds so the extra ratio was not 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 (38 cm) wheels instead of 16-inch (41 cm) 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 1950. Bigger changes were saved for March 1951, to anticipate the opening of the doors of the Frankfurt show on 19 April for an 11-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 6.25:1), engine power was 58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) at 3,700 rpm and top speed was 80 mph (130 km/h). Output increased to 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) 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 Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. This position was familiar 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 actually fully recovered from the consequences of the postwar era.


During the 1970s and 1980s, the Vauxhall and Opel ranges were rationalised into one consistent range across Europe.

By the 1970s, Opel had emerged as the stronger of GM's two European brands; Vauxhall was the third-best selling brand in Great Britain after the British Motor Corporation (later British Leyland) but made only a modest impact elsewhere. The two companies were direct competitors outside of each other's respective home markets, but mirroring US automaker Ford's decision to merge its English and German subsidiaries in the late 1960s, GM followed the same precedent. Opel and Vauxhall had loosely collaborated before, but serious efforts to merge the two companies' operations and product families into one did not start until the 1970s - which had Vauxhall's complete product line replaced by vehicles built on Opel-based platforms - the only exception to the rule being the Bedford CF panel van, the only solely Vauxhall design which was marketed as an Opel on the Continent. By the turn of the 1980s, the two brands were in effect, one and the same.

Opel's first turbocharged car was the Opel Rekord 2.3 TD, first shown at Geneva in March 1984.[19]

In the 1990s, Opel was considered to be GM's cash cow, with profit margins similar to that of Toyota. Opel's profit helped to offset GM's losses in North America and to fund GM's expansion into Asia.[20] 1999 was the last time when Opel was profitable for the full year for almost 20 years.[21]

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, on 10 September 2009, GM agreed to sell a 55% stake in Opel to the Magna group with the approval of the German government. The deal was later called off.[22]

With ongoing restructuring plans, Opel announced the closure of its Antwerp plant in Belgium by the end of 2010.[23]

In 2010, Opel announced that it would invest around 11 billion in the next five years.[24] €1 billion of that was designated solely for the development of innovative and fuel-saving engines and transmissions.[25]

On 29 February 2012, Opel announced the creation of a major alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen resulting in GM taking a 7% share of PSA, becoming PSA's second-largest shareholder after the Peugeot family. The alliance was intended to enable $2 billion per year of cost savings through platform sharing, common purchasing, and other economies of scale.[26] In December 2013, GM sold its 7% interest in PSA for £250 million, after plans of cost savings were not as successful.[27] Opel was said to be among Europe's most aggressive discounters in mass-market.[28] GM reported a 2016 loss of US$257 million from its European operations.[27] It is reported that GM has lost about US$20 billion in Europe since 1999.[29]

Opel's plant in Bochum closed in December 2014, after 52 years of activity, due to overcapacity.[30]

Opel withdrew from China, where it had a network of 22 dealers, in early 2015[31] after General Motors decided to withdraw its Chevrolet brand from Europe starting in 2016.[32]

Sale to Groupe PSA

In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to buy Opel, its English sister brand Vauxhall and their European auto lending business from General Motors for US$2.2 billion.[33][34] In return, General Motors will pay PSA US$3.2 billion for future European pension obligations and keep managing US$9.8 billion worth of plans for existing retirees. Furthermore, GM is responsible for paying about US$400 million annually for 15 years to fund the existing Great Britain and Germany pension plans.[33]

In June 2017, Michael Lohscheller, Opel's chief financial officer replaced Karl-Thomas Neumann as CEO.[35]

In the 2018 financial year, Opel achieved an operating income of 859 € million. It is the first positive income since 1999.[36][37]


Opel operates 10 vehicle, powertrain, and component plants and four development and test centres in six countries, and employs around 30,000 people in Europe. The brand sells vehicles in more than 60 markets worldwide. Other plants are in Eisenach and Kaiserslautern, Germany; Szentgotthárd, Hungary; Figueruelas, Spain; Gliwice, and Tychy, Poland; Aspern, Austria; Ellesmere Port, and Luton, Great Britain.[38] The Dudenhofen Test Center is located near the company's headquarters and is responsible for all technical testing and vehicle validations.

Around 6,250 people are responsible for the engineering and design of Opel/Vauxhall vehicles at the International Technical Development Center and European Design Center in Rüsselsheim.[39] All in all, Opel plays an important role in Groupe PSA's global R&D footprint.


Chairman/CEO of Adam Opel AG/GmbH since 1948
Edward W. Zdunek (Gaston de Wolff, acting Chairman)November 1948February 1961
Nelson J. StorkFebruary 1961March 1966
L. Ralph MasonMarch 19661970
Alexander Cunningham1970January 1974
John P. McCormackFebruary 1974February 1976
James F. WatersMarch 1976August 1980
Robert C. StempelSeptember 1980February 1982
Ferdinand BeicklerFebruary 1982February 1986
Horst W. HerkeFebruary 1986March 1989
Louis HughesApril 1989June 1992
David HermanJuly 1992June 1998
Gary CowgerJune 1998October 1998
Robert HendryOctober 1998March 2001
Carl-Peter ForsterApril 2001June 2004
Hans DemantJune 2004January 2010
Nick ReillyJanuary 2010March 2011
Karl-Friedrich Stracke[40]April 2011July 2012
Thomas Sedran (interim chairman)[41]July 2012February 2013
Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann[42]March 2013June 2017
Michael LohschellerSince June 2017


As of 2014 Opel Group GmbH Is the contracted original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of Opel/Vauxhall. Adam Opel AG is the main supplier (tier 1) for the OEM; all subsidiaries are tier 2 suppliers. Opel Group and Adam Opel are both first-tier subsidiaries of General Motors Holdings, LLC and second-tier subsidiaries of General Motors Corporation (GMC).[43]

Production site Image Production since Products Comments Employees
Rüsselsheim, Germany 1898 12.990
Kaiserslautern, Germany 1966 2.150
Kikinda, Serbia(*Ex-Yugoslavia) 1977 -1992 ?
Opel Eisenach GmbH
Eisenach, Germany
1990 1.420
Figueruelas, Spain 1982 5.120
Gliwice, Poland 1998 2.920
Opel Manufacturing Poland[49]
Tychy, Poland
  • Diesel engines
St. Gotthard, Hungary 1990
  • Engines
  • Transmissions
Vauxhall Ellesmere Port
Ellesmere Port, Great Britain
  • Astra K Sports Tourer (estate/wagon)
IBC Vehicles Ltd
Luton, Great Britain
1907 1.140
Saint Petersburg, Russia
2008 880

Plant controlled as first-tier subsidiary of General Motors Europe Limited, second-tier subsidiary of GM CME Holdings CV and third-tier subsidiary of General Motors Corporation (GMC):[38]

Image Production since Products Comments Employees
Opel Wien GmbH[38]
Aspern, Austria
1982 Opel Wien in Austria also well known as its first name General Motors Austria[50] 1.480


The first Opel logo contained the letters "A" and "O" – the initials of the company's founder, Adam Opel. The A was in bronze, the O kept in red.

In 1866, Opel expanded and started to produce bicycles. Around 1890, the logo was completely redesigned. The new logo also contained the words "Victoria Blitz" (referring to Lady Victory; they were certain of the triumph of their bicycles). The word "Blitz" (English: lightning) first appeared back then, but without a depiction.

Another redesign was commissioned in 1909. The new logo was much more spirited and contained only the company name Opel. It was placed on the motorcycles that they had started to produce in 1902, and on the first cars which were produced in 1909.

In 1910, the logo was the shape of an eye, and it was surrounded by laurels, with the text "Opel" in the centre.

From the mid-1930s to the 1960s, passenger cars carried a ring which was crossed by some kind of a flying thing pointing to the left, which in some form could be interpreted as a zeppelin, the same flying object being used also as a forward-pointing hood ornament. In some versions, it looked like an arrow; in others, like an aeroplane or a bird.

Besides the hood ornament flying through the ring, Opel also used a coat of arms in various forms, which mostly had a combination of white and yellow colours in it, a shade of yellow which is typical for Opel until today. One was oval, half white and half yellow. The Opel writing was black and in the middle of the oval symbol.

The origin of the lightning in the 2012 Opel logo lies in the truck Opel Blitz (German Blitz = English "lightning"), which had been a commercial success, widely used also within the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's military. Originally, the logo for this truck consisted of two stripes arranged loosely like a lightning symbol with the words "Opel" and "Blitz" in them, in later, 1950s models simplified to the horizontal form of lightning which appears in the current Opel logo. The jag in the lightning always follows the original from the "Opel Blitz" text stripes, in the form of a horizontally stretched letter "Z".

By the end of the 1960s, the two forms merged, and the horizontal lightning replaced the flying thing in the ring, giving way to the basic design which is used since then with variations. Through all its variations, this logo is simple and unique, and both easily recognisable and reproducible with just two strokes of a pen.

In the 1964 version, the lightning with a ring was used in a yellow rectangle, with the Opel writing below. The whole logo was again delimited by a black rectangle. The basic form and proportions of the Blitz logo have remained unchanged since the 1970 version, which made the lightning tails shorter so that the logo could fit proportionately within a yellow square, meaning it could be displayed next to the 'blue square' General Motors logo. In the mid-1970s, the Vauxhall "Griffin" logo was, in turn, resized and displayed within a corresponding red square, so that all three logos could be displayed together, thus signifying the unified GM Europe.


The SC Opel Rüsselsheim is a soccer club with over 450 members. RV 1888 Opel Rüsselsheim is a cycling club.


Opel's corporate tagline as of June 2017 is The Future Is Everyone's (German: Die Zukunft Gehört Allen). New Ideas Coches Mejor (1997-2002) Discover (2006,-2010) Wir Leben Autos (2010-2017) The Future is Everyone's(2017)


Opel currently has partnerships with association football clubs such as Bundesliga clubs Borussia Dortmund and 1. FSV Mainz 05.

World presence

The Opel brand is present in most of Europe, in parts of North Africa, in South Africa, the Middle East (EMEA), in Chile and in Singapore.[51] Their models have been rebadged and sold in other countries and continents, such as Vauxhall in Great Britain, Chevrolet in Latin America, Holden in Australia and New Zealand, and previously, Saturn in the United States and Canada. Following the demise of General Motors Corporation's Saturn division in North America, Opel cars are currently rebadged and sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico,[52] and China under the Buick name with models such as the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal, Opel Astra sedan/Buick Verano (both which share underpinnings with the Chevrolet Cruze), and Opel Mokka/Buick Encore.

In 2017, GM confirmed plans of a "hybrid global brand" which includes Vauxhall, Opel and Buick to use more synergies between the brands.[53][54]

North America

United States

Opel cars appeared under their own name in the US 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 to 1972 Opel Kadett, the 1971 to 1975 Opel Manta, and the now-classic 1968 to 1973 Opel GT.[55][56] (The name "Opel" was also applied from 1976 to 1980 to vehicles manufactured by Isuzu (similar to the "Isuzu I-mark"), but mechanically those were entirely different cars).

Historically, Opel vehicles have also been sold at various times in the North American market as either heavily modified, or "badge-engineered" models under the Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn, and Cadillac brands - for instance the J-body platform, which was largely developed by Opel - was the basis of North American models such as the Chevrolet Cavalier and Cadillac Cimarron. Below is a list of current or recent Opel models which are sold under GM's North American brands.

Buick Regal (fifth generation, 2009-2017, and sixth generation, 2018-present)

The last two generations of the Buick Regal have been rebadged versions of the Opel Insignia.[57] The main differences are the modified radiator grill and the altered colour of the passenger compartment illumination (blue instead of red). The Regal GS is comparable to the Insignia OPC. It was first assembled alongside the Insignia at the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim. In the first quarter of 2011, It began to be built on the flexible assembly line at the GM plant in Oshawa, Canada.[58]

Buick Cascada

The Buick Cascada is a rebadged Opel Cascada, built in Poland and sold in the United States unchanged from the Opel in all but badging.[59][60]

Buick LaCrosse

Unlike the vehicles listed above, the Buick LaCrosse is not a rebadged version of an Opel model. However, it is based on a long-wheelbase version of the Opel-developed Epsilon II-platform, so shares many key components with the Opel Insignia and thereby the Buick Regal.

Saturn Astra (2008–2009)

The Astra H was sold in the US as the Saturn Astra for model years 2008 and 2009.

Saturn L-Series (2000–2005)

The Saturn L-Series was a modified version of the Opel Vectra B. Though the Saturn had different exterior styling and had plastic door panels, it shared the same body shape as the Opel. Both cars rode on the GM2900 platform. The Saturn also had a different interior, yet shared some interior parts, such as the inside of the doors.

Saturn VUE (2nd generation, 2008-2010), Chevrolet Captiva Sport

The second generation of the Saturn VUE, introduced in 2007 for the 2008 model year, was a rebadged version of the German-designed Opel Antara, manufactured in Mexico. After the demise of the Saturn brand, the VUE was discontinued, but the car continued to be produced and sold as Chevrolet Captiva Sport in Mexican and South American markets. The Chevrolet Captiva Sport was introduced for the US commercial and fleet markets in late 2011 for the 2012 model.

Cadillac Catera (1997–2001)

The Opel Omega B was sold in the US as the Cadillac Catera.


Opel exports a variety of models to Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa.

South Africa

The 2015 Opel range in South Africa comprises the Opel Adam, Opel Astra, Opel Corsa, Opel Meriva, Opel Mokka, and Opel Vivaro. No diesel versions are offered.

From 1986 to 2003, Opel models were produced by Delta Motor Corporation, a company created through a management buyout following of GM's divestment from apartheid South Africa. Delta assembled the Opel Kadett, with the sedan version called the Opel Monza. This was replaced by the Opel Astra, although the Kadett name was retained for the hatchback and considered a separate model. A version of the Rekord Series E remained in production after the model had been replaced by the Omega in Europe, as was a Commodore model unique to South Africa, combining the bodyshell of the Rekord with the front end of the revised Senator. The Opel Corsa was introduced in 1996, with kits of the Brazilian-designed sedan and pick-up (known in South African English as a bakkie) being locally assembled.

Although GM's passenger vehicle line-up in South Africa consisted of Opel-based models by the late 1970s, these were sold under the Chevrolet brand name, with only the Kadett being marketed as an Opel when it was released in 1980. In 1982, the Chevrolet brand name was dropped, with the Ascona, Rekord, Commodore, and Senator being rebadged as Opels.


Many Opel models or models based on Opel architectures have been sold in Australia and New Zealand under the Holden marque, such as the Holden Barina (1994-2005), which were rebadged versions of the Opel Corsa, the Holden Astra. a version of the Opel Astra, and the Captiva 5, a version of the Opel Antara. In New Zealand, the Opel Kadett and Ascona were sold as niche models by General Motors New Zealand in the 1980s, while the Opel brand was used on the Opel Vectra until 1994.

For the first time ever, the Opel brand was introduced to Australia on 1 September 2012, including the Corsa, Astra, Astra GTC, and Insignia models.[61][62] On 2 August 2013, Opel announced it was ending exports to Australia due to poor sales, with only 1,530 vehicles sold in the first ten months.[63][64]

After the closure of Opel Australia, Holden imports newer Opel models such as the Astra GTC (ceased 1 May 2017), Astra VXR (Astra OPC), Cascada (ceased 1 May 2017), and Insignia VXR (Insignia OPC, ceased 1 May 2017), under the Holden badge.[65] The 2018 5th-gen Holden Commodore ZB is a badge-engineered Opel Insignia, replacing the Australian-made, rear-wheel drive Commodore with the German-made front-wheel/all-wheel drive Insignia platform.



Opel's presence in China recommenced in 2012 with the Antara, and added the Insignia estate in 2013.[66] Opel-derived models are also sold as Buick. On 28 March 2014, Opel announced that it would leave China in 2015.[67]


Opel was long General Motors' strongest marque in Japan, with sales peaking at 38,000 in 1996. However, the brand was withdrawn from the Japanese market in December 2006, with just 1,800 sales there in 2005. Since then, Opel has not sold any cars or SUVs in Japan.


A wide range of Opel models are exported to Singapore.


Opel was marketed in Malaysia beginning from the 1970s, and early models exported were Kadett, Gemini, and Manta. Opel had moderate sales from the 1980s until the early 2000s, when Malaysian car buyers favoured Japanese and Korean brand cars such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai (Inokom) and Kia (Naza), which offered more competitive prices. Sales of Opel cars in Malaysia were dropped then, as Opel's prices were slightly higher than the same-segment Japanese, Korean, and local Proton and Perodua cars, and they were hard to maintain, had bad aftersales services, and spare parts were not readily available.

Opel was withdrawn from Malaysian market in 2003, and the last models sold were the Zafira, Astra, and Vectra, and the rebadged Isuzu MU as the Frontera, later replaced by Chevrolet.


The Astra F and Vectra B were ever manufactured in Taiwan by CAC company. Before that, Kadett E / Omega A was ever imported to the Taiwanese market. Some models, Astra G/H, Corsa B/C, Omega B and Zafira A/B were also ever imported to Taiwan.

South America

Several Opel models were sold across Latin America for decades with Chevrolet badges, including the Corsa, Astra, Vectra, Meriva, and Zafira. In the 2010s, the Chevrolet line-up changed to adopt North American models such as the Spark, Sonic, and Cruze.

Opel exported a wide range of products to Chile since 2011.[68]


Great Britain


In the 1980s, Opel became the sole GM brand name in Ireland, with the Vauxhall brand having been dropped.[69] Vauxhall's Managing Director has also been Opel Ireland's Chief Executive since 2015.[70]

There were two Opel-franchised assembly plants in Ireland in the 1960s. One in Ringsend, Dublin, was operated by Reg Armstrong Motors, which also assembled NSU cars and motorcycles. The second assembly plant was based in Cork and operated by O'Shea's, which also assembled Škoda cars and Zetor tractors. The models assembled were the Kadett and the Rekord. From 1966, the Admiral was imported as a fully built unit and became a popular seller.

European Car of the Year

Opel have produced five winners of the European Car of the Year competition:

Shortlisted models

Several models have been shortlisted, including the:


From the late 1930s to the 1980s, terms from the German Navy (Kapitän, Admiral, Kadett) and from other official sectors (Diplomat, Senator) were often used as model names. Since the late 1980s, the model names of Opel passenger cars end with an a. As Opels were no longer being sold in Great Britain, no need remained to have separate model names for essentially identical Vauxhall and Opel cars (although some exceptions were made to suit the British market). The last series to be renamed across the two companies was the Opel Kadett, being the only Opel to take the name of its Vauxhall counterpart, as Opel Astra. Although only two generations of Astra were built prior to the 1991 model, the new car was referred to across Europe as the Astra F, referring to its Kadett lineage. Until 1993, the Opel Corsa was known as the Vauxhall Nova in Great Britain, as Vauxhall had initially felt that Corsa sounded too much like "coarse", and would not catch on.

Exceptions to the nomenclature of ending names with an "a" include the under-licence built Monterey, the Speedster (also known as the Vauxhall VX220 in Great Britain), GT (which was not sold at all as a Vauxhall, despite the VX Lightning concept), the Signum, Karl, and the Adam. The Adam was initially supposed to be called, "Junior" as was its developmental codename and because the name 'Adam' had no history/importance to the Vauxhall marque.

Similar to the passenger cars, the model names of commercial vehicles end with an o (Combo, Vivaro, Movano), except the Corsavan and Astravan for obvious reasons.

Another unique aspect to Opel nomenclature is its use of the "Caravan" (originally styled as 'Car-A-Van') name to denote its station wagon body configuration, (similar to Volkswagen's Variant or Audi's Avant designations), a practice the company observed for many decades, which finally ceased with the 2008 Insignia and 2009 Astra, where the name "Sports Tourer" is now used for the estate/station wagon versions.

Current model range

The following tables list current and announced Opel production vehicles as of 2019:

Ampera-e All-electric subcompact car
  • Hatchback
Astra Small family car
  • Hatchback
  • Sports Tourer (Estate/Wagon)
Combo Life Leisure activity vehicle
  • Van
Corsa Supermini
  • Hatchback
Crossland X Subcompact crossover
Grandland X Compact crossover SUV
  • SUV
Insignia Large family car
  • Grand Sport (Hatchback)
  • Sports Tourer (Estate/Wagon)
  • Country Tourer (AWD Estate/Wagon)

Light commercial vehicles

Combo Panel van
  • Van
Opel Vivaro Light commercial vehicle
  • Van
Movano Light commercial vehicle
  • Van
  • Chassis cab
  • Crew cab

Discontinued models

System Lutzmann 1899–1902
Darracq 1902–1907
Doktorwagen 1909–1910
Laubfrosch 1924–1931
Olympia 1935–1970
Kadett 1937–1940
Kapitän 1939–1970
Olympia Rekord 1953–1957
Rekord 1953–1986
Commodore 1967–1982
GT 1968–1973
Ascona 1970–1988
Manta 1970–1988
Senator 1978–1993
Omega 1986–2003
Vectra 1988–2009
Calibra 1989–1997
Agila 2000-2014
Signum 2003–2008
Meriva 2003–2017
Zafira 1999-2019
Cascada 2013-2019
Adam 2012-2019
Mokka 2012-2019
Karl 2014-2019


Opel Rally Team took part in World Rally Championship in the early 1980s with the Opel Ascona 400 and the Opel Manta 400, developed in conjunction with Irmscher and Cosworth. Walter Röhrl won the 1982 World Rally Championship drivers' title, and the 1983 Safari Rally was won by Ari Vatanen.

In the late 1990s, Opel took part in the International Touring Car Championship, and won the 1996 Championship with the Calibra. Opel took part in the German DTM race series between 2000 and 2005 with the Astra, and despite winning several races, it never won the DTM championship.

Opel returned to motorsport competition with the Adam in 2013.[71]

In 2014, Opel presented a road-legal sport version of the Adam R2 Rally Car - Opel Adam S[72] - powered by a 1.4 L turbocharged engine which generates 150 HP. The car makes 0–100 km/h in just 8.5 seconds.

See also


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