The Chancellor visits the heart of Rüsselsheim production: During a tour, plant manager Pieter Ruts explains individual production steps.

Opel Celebrates – and the Chancellor Joins in

Only a few minutes ago, trainees Justin Sahinkaya and Jesse Klein as well as student Phillip Franjkovic were ushering visitors into the Adam Opel Haus. Now the three volunteers are trying to secure the best-possible spot to watch the official proceedings. “Can you see something?”, “Is he there yet?” “He” – in this specific case means Olaf Scholz. The German Chancellor is present at the official ceremony at the Opel headquarters in the Adam Opel Haus to congratulate the Rüsselsheim-based company, which has been building cars for 125 years.

The three young talents are accompanied by numerous invited guests of honour and 600 employees who have secured one of the coveted places at the company headquarters. When Olaf Scholz enters the stage a little later, he addresses the employees directly: “Generations of employees have made Opel the great brand it is today: an automobile company on the way to electromobility. That is exemplary,” said the Chancellor, adding: “You have achieved something great!”

“Generations of employees have made Opel the great brand it is today.”

– German Chancellor Olaf Scholz –

Clear course: In his speech, Olaf Scholz praised the path to electrification that the Rüsselsheim-based company has taken.
Official opening (from left to right): Hessian Prime Minister Boris Rhein, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Opel Automobile GmbH Xavier Chéreau, Opel CEO Florian Huettl, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares and Stellantis Chairman John Elkann.
“Today is a great day for Opel,” said Opel CEO Florian Huettl at the official opening ceremony.
Looking forward to seeing the Chancellor: Justin Sahinkaya, Phillip Franjkovic and Jesse Klein (from left to right) all signed up as volunteers.
Family affair: Gregor von Opel, great-grandson of company founder Adam Opel, and his wife Julia are both among the guests of honour.

Resounding applause, proud faces

Opel CEO Florian Huettl underlines the commitment to electromobility in his speech with concrete facts: “We will be the first German brand to offer a battery-electric variant of every model in our portfolio this year,” he says. “With 125 years of experience in automobile manufacturing, we and our employees are taking the path of electrification with conviction.” Resounding applause, proud faces. Carlos Tavares, CEO of Opel parent company Stellantis, points out that Opel has experienced “a fantastic journey” over the past seven years. In 2023 alone, the company grew more strongly than it has in two decades, with sales increasing by 15 per cent, said Tavares.


Gregor von Opel is also among the numerous invited guests. “It’s a great day for all of us,” said the great-grandson of the company’s founder Adam Opel. “I am pleased that the company is once again so successful with excellent models and is consistently pursuing the path towards electromobility.” It was his father Dr Georg von Opel who converted a GT into an electric car in 1971 to demonstrate the future potential of this alternative drive. The legacy of this pioneering achievement stands prominently in the Adam Opel Haus today: the new Grandland Electric and the new Frontera Electric, which celebrated their world premieres a few weeks ago, are being presented to a large audience for the first time today.

“I’m sure the Chancellor would have liked to drive a little further in the Astra.”

– Plant employee Buket Bilen –

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (left) and Opel CEO Florian Huettl (right) accompany the Chancellor on a tour of the Rüsselsheim plant.
Combustion engine, hybrid or electric vehicles: plant manager Pieter Ruts shows how flexible production is in Rüsselsheim.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attaches a high-voltage cable that connects battery parts on the Rüsselsheim production line for the Astra Electric.
Under the watchful eye of colleague Buket Bilen, Olaf Scholz drives an Astra Electric off the production line.
Open and approachable: The politician took the time to talk to many colleagues in the plant.

But the Chancellor didn’t just come to Rüsselsheim to take part in the official ceremony. He devotes a lot of time to the subsequent visit to the Rüsselsheim plant. Over a hundred colleagues from production, maintenance, logistics and the quality department are ready to present the production of the Astra. “Production is highly flexible,” says plant manager Pieter Ruts as he leads the prominent visitor onto the assembly line. Here the underbody of the compact class bestseller is prepared – depending on requirements – for the combustion engine, hybrid or electric variant. Olaf Scholz doesn’t hesitate and connects a high-voltage cable to the battery. “Feels good to have done something with your hands,” he jokes with the journalists watching the scene.

Joining the Chancellor in the Astra

During the tour of the plant, one colleague gets particularly close to the Chancellor. Buket Bilen sits in the passenger seat as Olaf Scholz drives an Astra Electric Sports Tourer off the assembly line. “I briefly explained to him how to start the Astra at the push of a button, and then we got going,” says the factory employee. In general, the atmosphere was very relaxed: “Mr Scholz was really likeable and open. He clearly enjoyed driving the electric Astra. I’m sure he would have liked to drive a little further.”

Commitment to the Rüsselsheim site

The future new global Opel headquarters and Stellantis Germany headquarters will be located in the immediate vicinity of the modern production plant. The groundbreaking ceremony is set to take place this year. The company headquarters will make a decisive contribution to reducing the CO2 footprint of the Rüsselsheim site. The electricity needs of the office buildings will be provided by photovoltaic systems with around 7,000 panels installed across the roof. The building is air-conditioned using efficient heat pump technology. A modern and motivating working environment with bright office areas with lots of daylight and high-quality materials will be created for the employees from administration, design, research and development and sales.

The new company headquarters will make a decisive contribution to reducing the carbon footprint of the Rüsselsheim location.

Buket Bilen also takes part in the subsequent so-called citizen dialogue, in which the Chancellor exchanges ideas with 21 employees and trainees at the plant. The discussions, which take place behind closed doors, include the electrification offensive, the expansion of the charging infrastructure, but also personal concerns. Even when the Chancellor receives a signal that it is time to leave, he stays. “Mr. Scholz was very interested and took a lot of time to answer our questions,” said Buket Bilen.

Fascination of car manufacturing

And how did the three volunteers in the Adam Opel Haus like the ceremony with the Chancellor? Of course, the Chancellor’s visit was the icing on the cake. “But beyond that, it’s something very special to be part of such an event,” says Opel student Phillip Franjkovic. As soon as their assignment is over, they want to explore the remaining highlights of the “Open Day” around the headquarters and dive into the fascination of “125 years of automobile manufacturing” with a visit to the Opel Design Center and the pop-up exhibition.

Olaf Scholz with the fully electric Astra that rolls off the production line in Rüsselsheim.
The Chancellor exchanges ideas with employees during the citizen dialogue. The discussions take place behind closed doors.
The plant employees gather for a group photograph with the Chancellor.

Want to know more? A recording of the opening ceremony can be found here.

June 2024

Photos: Opel/Andreas Liebschner, Thorsten Weigl