GM Opel unit could break even earlier than expected

|By:, SA News Editor

General Motors' (GM) European unit Opel, for so long one of the car-maker's biggest sources of woe, could break even in 2015, ahead of its target of 2016, unit chief Karl-Thomas Neumann has indicated.

"If everything goes well, theoretically that can't be ruled out," Neumann has told the WSJ.

Although GM has shut a German factory, the company is pumping over $6B into its European operations, while Neumann has made a concerted effort to rebuild the Opel brand. The unit is also benefiting from a recovery in the European car market.

Still, given Opel's history of over-promising and under-delivering, heavy losses and numerous unsuccessful makeovers, Neumann is staying cautious. The situation between Ukraine and Russia, and the latter's shaky economy, is of concern.

Separately, Bloomberg tells the story of GM engineer Brian Stouffer, who tried to understand why defective ignition switches were causing cars to stall. However, Stouffer was stymied by "uncooperative colleagues, inaccurate data and a rotating cast of managers."