FRANKFURT - Opel's management board last week approved plans to produce the Speedster sports car that debuted as a concept car at the Geneva auto show in March.
General Motors sources say the Lotus Elise-based two-seater will be launched in the summer of 2000. It will be built at the Lotus factory in Hethel, England.
Like the Elise, the Speedster features fiberglass panels, and a rear-wheel-drive/mid-engined configuration. But the Speedster's new 2.2-liter alloy engine and five-speed manual gearbox come from Opel.
Up to 1,000 cars are planned next year. In 2001 capacity should rise to 3,000 units. The Speedster is aimed at boosting GM's product image in Europe.
Opel is still in talks with Porsche over the rights to the Speedster name. Porsche has used the name on past roadsters, but has never registered the name.
Though Opel is legally entitled to the use the Speedster name for its new car, GM executives do not want to sour relations with Porsche. The German company's engineering arm recently worked on the roadholding and handling of the new Zafira minivan.