DETROIT -- General Motors Co. said Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn is stoking speculation that GM's German-based Opel unit is for sale. Winterkorn was quoted in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper saying that if Opel were for sale, a Chinese automaker would be more likely than Hyundai Motor Co. to buy it.
Detroit-based GM said on its Web site that Winterkorn's comment "continues a regrettable pattern of fanning speculation" that Opel is on the sales block.
German magazines Der Spiegel and Auto Bild reported last month that GM may be considering a sale of Opel. GM has called such reports speculation and not commented on them. The company said it's restructuring the business and is showing progress.
Winterkorn shouldn't have made the remarks about a competitor, said Maryann Keller, principal of Maryann Keller & Associates in Stamford, Connecticut. "He shouldn't have said anything," she said. "To suggest that only a Chinese company would be interested is unseemly."