The German government is this week expected to back the bidder it wants to take over Vauxhall's European parent in a move that will decide the fate of 5,000 UK workers.
Embattled General Motors is said to have asked bidders to table their final offers for its European business — which includes Opel and Vauxhall in the UK — by the end of today and it is thought a decision could be made by the German government within days.
Vauxhall employs 5,000 people across two manufacturing plants in the UK — its Ellesmere Port site in Cheshire, where it makes the Astra model, and a site in Luton where the Vivaro commercial van is made.
The two bidders seen as being the principal suitors in the battle to secure the GM Europe business are both understood to have pledged to retain Vauxhall's two sites.
But there are fears over mass redundancies by whichever party seals the takeover.
Canadian car parts group Magna International — the preferred bidder, having already signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding in May — has reportedly promised to keep both UK plants open until 2013, but will axe around 10,000 roles across Europe.
Its rival, Brussels-based industrial holding group RHJ International, has also said it would retain the plants, although it is believed to be planning to ask workers to take a pay cut in return for shares in the group.
A cloud of uncertainty has hung over the UK business after its US parent General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this summer, forcing it to break itself up and put the European arm up for sale. A number of would-be acquirers have been in the frame, including Beijing Automotive Industry Holding, although Magna and RHJ are seen as being the two serious contenders.