Fiat SpA's chief executive visited Berlin on Monday to try to convince Germany's political leaders to back his vision for a new European car giant by letting him take over General Motors Corp's Opel unit.
Following is a history of Opel:
1863 - Adam Opel sets up a sewing machine workshop in a former cowshed in the western German town of Ruesselsheim. He later makes bicycles as well.
1899 - Opel's sons, who took over the business, buy a car factory. They build their first automobile that year.
1929 - General Motors buys Opel.
1940 - The Nazi regime seizes control of Opel's factories.
1947 - General Motors regains control of the company.
2004 - GM announces plans to cut 12 000 jobs in Europe, of which about 6 000 are at Opel.
Nov. 2008 - GM is hit by sliding demand and faces a liquidity squeeze. Opel asks Germany for state loan guarantees.
Solarworld says it is prepared to offer 1 billion euros for Opel's German plants if the carmaker is separated from GM.
Feb. 2009 - GM presents restructuring plan to the US government, puts its Swedish carmaker Saab up for sale and says its will need to cut $1.2 billion of costs in Europe.
March 4 - GM Europe head Carl-Peter Forster says Opel could slash 3 500 jobs as part of a plan to cut costs and relaunch as an independent company.
March 16 - Opel's hopes of getting state aid are dealt a blow when a government enquiry finds it is not possible to completely separate it from its US parent.
April 17 - Fiat Chairman Luca Cordero de Montezemolo rebuts a newspaper report the Italian company is looking at Opel as an alternative to a partnership with Chrysler.
April 20 - A banker close to the talks says four financial and two strategic investors are in talks with GM to buy a possible majority stake in Opel for an investment of at least 500 million euros. The source says none of Germany's automakers nor Fiat were involved in the sale process.
April 23 - Opel supervisory board member says GM moving nearer to a deal to offload its Opel unit, having found a prospective buyer in Fiat.
April 28 - Austrian-Canadian auto parts supplier Magna presents outlines of a rival offer to seize control of Opel ahead of Fiat.
May 1 - Fiat CEO says in a newspaper interview the company's next project is a deal with Opel after a forming a landmark alliance with Chrysler.
May 4 - Fiat's chief executive visits Berlin to try to convince Germany's political leaders to sign up to his vision for a new European car giant by letting him take over Opel.