Solar power magnate’s bold bid for ailing carmaker

November 19, 2008

SolarWorld chief executive Frank Asbeck raised eyebrows by announcing plans to bid for the German plants of General Motors’ Opel unit.

Here was a small 10-year-old company specialising in producing photovoltaic systems with 2,000 employees and annual sales of 700 million euros preparing the stage for a seemingly audacious takeover of a legendary 146-year-old German company with 25,000 employees and more than 60 million cars sold since the first vehicle was made in 1899.

What does solar power have to do with the car industry? Not much at this point.

Yet after the initial laughter finally died down, Asbeck explained the vision linking renewable energies to the car industry. The 49-year-old solar power baron told Reuters that he wanted to make Opel the first “green” car company in Europe.

“Opel has truly modern policies on car models,” said Asbeck, a maverick in Germany who started the fast-growing company only a decade ago. “It’s got the potential to become a truly ‘green’
carmaker, switching over from the ‘automotive’ sector to the ‘sun-motive’ or ‘electro-motive’.

“The public and the markets are demanding new products,” he said. “No one will be able to negate a 25-percent decline in sales with green, electro cars or hybrids overnight. But the development is extremely interesting. There will be a new cliental and new green market demands that have to be met.”

There have been rapid advances in energy storage technologies in recent years. Some believe that millions of battery-driven cars could be a major breakthrough for renewable energies — a vast depot for storing wind and solar power.

While the supply of the wind and sun far exceeds humanity’s needs it doesn’t necessarily match the time when people need it: the sun may not be shining nor the wind blowing when we need to cook dinner or have a shower — or drive cars. Soaring production of solar panel and wind turbines has been now spurring a race to develop the winning energy storage technologies which will drive the electric cars and appliances of the future.

Asbeck’s idea to meld cars and solar together sounds crazy, but his audacious gamble for Opel has put the idea in the spotlight. Let’s see where it goes from here.


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This really is the best news I’ve heard in a long time.

The carmakers need some serious competition to shake them up and show them how to corner the green car market. And I’m sure there’d be a huge market for a SolarWorld car that runs on sunshine. Imagine how much money you’d save by never having to fill up your tank again.

Posted by Debra | Report as abusive

It wont happen in near future!

GM will not give up the only healthy part of their business that they have, their books are cooked in such a way that “Opel” has kept GM afloat for over 2 years.

If SolarWorld really wants business making green car s their gonna have to start from scratch.

new suppliers patents and concepts. for a start the energy required to make the material and transport it so assemble into a care using green energy is not given in any automobile industry of today.

Solar world would just be buying into a dinosaur, they only have to wait long enough and they can get it for much less and virtually for free, carbon hydro burning technology is nothing useful for future investments or future job security or markets.

Solar world basically just shocked the market and politics by making this offer telling them they are all history.

Posted by LastReplay | Report as abusive

The reaction to the SolarWorld offer has been pretty negative but I agree with Debra — it’s a fascinating idea, even if it may not happen. The whole idea of millions of car batteries being a storage place for solar and wind energy got me curious about the issue. I stumbled upon this speech from Barack Obama in Michigan in August and was, well, ‘electrified’ when I read the last two words of this line: “As President, I will accelerate those efforts to meet our urgent need. With technology we have on the shelf today, we will raise our fuel mileage standards four percent every year. We’ll invest more in the research and development of those plug-in hybrids, specifically focusing on the battery technology.”

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

Not at all, the technology already exists to easily make solar powered vehicles a reality. Just this year, four crucial pieces were put into play: solar textiles which allow fabrics to act as solar collection material which could be used on the interior of the cars, solar pigments so that the car’s paint is another way of collecting solar energy, solar windows meaning the glass becomes another solar part of the solar collection, and then solar collection batteries which store the solar energy for longterm so that even when the car isn’t in sunlight it can pull on that stored energy to keep going. *Sniffs the air* I think I smell green.

Posted by Brandy | Report as abusive

Yes! Keeping in mind the drastic environmental changes and rising fuel prices going Solar is one option open to all at minimal investments. The Solar Water heating systems are so easy to install and most of them come in a Do-it Yourself kit, With the technological advancement the once heavy, bulky hard to move panels are now available widely in light weight easy to carry by one personal only packages. The advancement in technology is not only limited to light weight, but for those concern about the aesthetics of the panels, the good news is that the panels are now available with a variety of trim colors to choose from and can be easily matched to your roof. Saving about $25.oo on ones electricity bill every month on a residence of 4. We all use hot water, as one of our basic needs and what can be a better way, than helping our environment, saving our resources and ourself’s some money other than by investing in a Solar Water Heating System.
There are a couple useful websites I’m aware off, that I would like to share with you
1. – is a comprehensive source of information on state, local
, utility ans federal incentives that promote renewable engery ans energy efficieny.
2. – one of the many manufacturers of certified Solar Water Heating Systems available. One place I saw the light weight panels and trim color options I was mentioning earlier.
Lastly, the local utilites in some areas also provide additional rebates and incentives for adding a Solar Water Heating Sytem to your exisitng water tank.
Keep the look out on. Feel Good and save- money for you, environment for us.

Posted by Solar | Report as abusive

Solar power is essential to save our electricity.The above information is useful for me to develop a web page about”SOLAR ENERGY AND SOLAR POWER”

Posted by Solar Power | Report as abusive

[…] Photo Credit: Reuters […]

Posted by Will German Incentive Cuts Stunt the Solar Industry? | Report as abusive

I think it was just a Gimmick. GM wrote back to him and said “Opel is not for sale”

I should try buying the White House.

Posted by SolarEnergy | Report as abusive