General Motors, like a lot of other carmakers, is having a tough time lately - some might say tougher than most. Opel, GM's German subsidiary, and Vauxhall, Opel's UK-based doppelganger, are taking it on the chin as well.

Today German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the government would be unlikely to support Opel without a guarantee that the funds would "secure a good future" for the company, reports Reuters. Shortly afterward a conglomerate of Opel/Vauxhall dealers stepped in with a plan to buy a minority stake.

Euroda, a group of Opel/Vauxhall dealers in 25 countries numbering about 4,000 strong, has put together a fund into which dealers will contribute €150 from the sale of each car for the next three years. That fund will be used to buy a €400 million minority stake in an independent Opel/Vauxhall.

GM wants to sell off a substantial portion of its interest in the company, and Opel is itself trying to find ways to deal with a $3.3 billion shortfall. That's where the German government comes in, provided of course that Opel can convince the Germans that it's still a legitimate business venture, and that the government aid it gets will actually preserve it through the economic downturn.

Still up in the air is how Opel's current distress and GM's choice to distance itself from the brand might affect rumored plans for sharing technology with Buick. Saturn's even bleaker future may simply make the Opel-Buick conduit a matter of convenience, and not a solid plan for the future. Whatever the outcome, it's becoming increasingly clear that other governments outside the U.S. are going to have to get involved to prop up the ailing industry, or big changes could be in store.