By on June 16, 2011

According to Auto Motor und Sport, this Opel “Junior” city car (A-Segment) could be sold in the US if Opel isn’t sold first and if union boss Klaus Franz gets his way. Though GM has ruled out selling the Opel brand in the US, Franz tells AM und S that

I can see strong demand for this car in the cities of the East and West coasts.

But if the Opel brand is off the table, what will this car be sold as? There’s been no rumor yet of a Buick-branded microcar, but Cadillac did recently show an A-Segment concept, called the ULC, that could tip the strategy for this car’s US-market design and branding. It’s just too bad TTAC’s Best and Brightest answered the question “Does Cadillac Need A MINI-Fighter?” with a resounding “NO”. But would a ULC-style micro-Caddy be any less appealing than a baby Buick? This car will be a tough sell coming from any of GM’s remaining brands, but with CAFE increases in the cards (and as prices rising anyway) this may an unavoidable conundrum.

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29 Comments on “Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Opel City Car Coming To The US...”

  • avatar

    I’m not sold that Caddy (or Buick) could sell a Mini-style model, but even if they could in theory, this car isn’t it.

    But…what if they restyled this so it wasn’t so dull-looking, gave it some performance chops, and sold it as a Chevy? THAT might be an interesting car.

  • avatar

    It could be sold as a Chevy, but I am not sure how this is going to work in the US. I think gas would need a large jump in price and this would need to get phenomenal mileage for it to have a chance.

    I don’t think it makes sense here. If it came, I would see it as a Chevy.

  • avatar

    I’m not really sure why this would be a conundrum, as GM rebadges Opels as Chevys in South America. If you squint your eyes a little, you can imagine that Opel grill getting a more pronounced split and a golden bowtie added to the middle.

    The real question is: How would this all work with the upcoming Spark? Maybe this could be an OPC-version only in the US and be the Spark SS? It would have to be marketed rather cleverly for it to succeed.

  • avatar

    I think the relative success of and interest in the Fiat 500 suggests that there might be a small niche market out there for those who want an affordable ’boutique’ car. It could do well enough as a Cadillac (or Buick) if packaged right.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    They should sell it as a Saturn… oh wait.

  • avatar

    I don’t think GM can pull off a car like this. They wouldn’t get what it was supposed to be and end up selling it as a ratty little stripper.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not familiar with this car, but I think it is supposed to be a ratty little stripper. The mistake would be to throw power-everything and leather into it and call it a Buick or Cadillac.

      Smart has demonstrated there’s not much of a city car market here, it’s not as cute as a 500 and I doubt it has Mini’s performance chops. So why bother?

  • avatar

    Given the upcoming Sonic and Spark for Chevy, I think the only option is Buick.

    That really means GM would have to do an Audi on this baby, and make it a real premium product (and, no, that doesn’t require RWD and 300 hp). Look at the Audi A1 for an excellent example.

    The good thing for Buick is that this would be substantially different from any other GM brand. But would GM be able to pull this off?

  • avatar

    But would a ULC-style micro-Caddy be any less appealing than a baby Buick?


  • avatar

    It looks like one of those “Chevy” hatchbacks that GM sells in Mexico (and perhaps elsewhere in Latin America). I think those are based on older Opel Corsas.

    Is this a Corsa or Agila replacement?

    That said, I could see this as a niche product for urban dwellers and car-sharing (i.e. Zipcar) fleets. GM could import it in limited quantities, knowing the limits of its popularity.

    It sure beats a Smart car!

  • avatar

    Sell it as a Buick Century. I’m sure that thing could get to 100mph. All the traditional Buick styling has been beaten out of the brand — it’s Opel body lines with SAIC-penned grills — why not?

  • avatar

    Arrgh. That short back window on the sides looks several kinds of wrong.

    It seems too close to the Sonic/Aveo to add it to a Chevy lot.
    Is the chassis qualified to sell it as a premium vehicle? GM often has that problem selling Euro models to Americans. After getting the cars here, they have to charge higher prices for them, so they try to dress them up as premium (“Catera”), which fails, or they try to leave the car relatively simple, and it’s still too expensive for US expectations (Saturn Astra? or did that die because they never advertised it?).

    • 0 avatar

      A friend of mine needed a new car after the death of her Altima in 2008. It was the middle of the gas price spike, and obvious choices like the Civic were sold out or priced beyond her range. There was a Saturn dealer(which is now a failed Jaguar dealer) on the same street as the Honda, Nissan, and Carmax stores, so we went for a look. I was curious to get a good look at an Astra, but my friend eliminated it as soon as she touched it, saying it was a tin can. Her Altima was a piece of garbage, but she thought the Astra was unacceptably cheap. The Aura was more her speed, but the dealer insisted on pushing a fully loaded left over 2006 Aura V6 for less than the price on the 2008 Aura I4 with light equipment that she’d have been interested in. We were told that GM had suspended hybrid production for the rest of the year, just what you should do in a fuel crunch if you work in Detroit.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s just me, but it appears that every micro-car or whatchacallit coming out recently looks suspiciously like a Fiat 500!

    That rear quarter window also looks like one of those aftermarket windows van owners bought and tacked on in the 70’s to dress up their bedroom-on-wheels!

  • avatar

    Lacking the retro pedigree of the Mini or the 500, trying to market an A segment car outside of Chevy has no future. It can’t tap into any nostalgia at Buick or Cadillac, and it would only diminish the luxury bona fides of either brand.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If Buick sold the Opel Astra hatch as a Mini-fighter, it’d do quite well.

      It’s a very handsome little car.

      • 0 avatar

        Saturn already tried that, and it worked so well it saved the brand. No, wait……

        Premium hatches are tough sell in the land of the free, just ask Volvo or Mercedes

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Saturn was it’s own disaster, and Opel merely prolonged the death. Saturn was an anachronism from when each division made it’s own cars with their own unique engines and chassis and bodies, in a time when efficiency was the watchword. Saturn tried to sell Opel/Buick-cost cars to women on a Chevy/Pontiac budget.

        Buick is at higher price point than Saturn. Buick, OTOH, is doing just fine selling lightly-massaged Opels at an appropriate price point which actually recovers the development costs, so they’re making money for GM, hand over fist.

        Volvo & Benz try to sell the C30 at roughly $30k. Buick would be pricing the Astra at or near the same $20k that Mini charges.

  • avatar


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