By on July 24, 2012

“Should Opel, Chevy coexist in Europe?” This is what Automotive News [sub] asks today without offering a real answer. Let’s have a look. Then, cast your vote.

As we could see in our review of six month European numbers, Chevrolet is GM’s only bright spot in Europe. Chevy’s EU sales rose 14 percent in the first six months while Opel’s EU sales dropped 15 percent in the first half of 2012. Of course, 15 percent more than the 90,000 units Chevy had sold in the same period of 2011 does not quite make up for losing 15 percent of 538,000, but let’s not get hung up on details.

Indeed, it looks like there is a plan in Detroit that calls for the elimination of GM’s regional brands. Such as there are Opel, its UK alter-ego Vauxhall, and, while we are at it, Holden in Australia.

The test market for this was the De-Daewooification of  South Korea. Where, not quite coincidentally, most of the Chevrolets come from that are so successful in Europe.

I can very well imagine that there are people at the RenCen who said more than once: “How come we need to close down perfectly good brands, and those clowns in Germany can keep on losing money year after year after year without being put up against the wall?”

Regional brands are a threat to central power. As long as regional brands do well, they are tolerated. If they don’t do well, especially if they are a big drag on the stock price at home, their life is in danger.

The longer the red ink is flowing at Opel – and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the bloodletting, not for five years at least, a terrifying thought for a company with a quarter-to-quarter time horizon –  the bigger the likelihood that someone says: Let’s stick a sock into Opel. Do not resuscitate. Do not assist eating and drinking.

Possibly, someone already said that. Brand strategies don’t become evident overnight. At Volkswagen, changes of that magnitude took ten years or more for outsiders to notice. Volkswagen’s upmarket move, which Stracke unsuccessfully wanted to counter, was decided by Piech after he took the helm of Volkswagen in the early 90s. Heck, even the inside did not really get Piech until he insisted on the Phaeton.

Automotive News not very helpfully suggests that the time of GM executives should be “spent deciding if they need two very similar brands in Europe and, if not, which is the keeper.“

How would you decide?

If you would be Akerson, would you …
  
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77 Comments on “Will Opel Become Collateral Damage Of The One Chevy Strategy? What Would You Do In Akerson’s Place?...”


  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    The Germans are awfully protective of their brands…

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Just one problem in markets like the UK and Germany Chevy’s are seen as just about the worst form of cheap car, nothing more than modern day Daewoos.

    Smarter for GM would be to rebadge/ restyle Cadillacs for Europe as Vauxhalls and sell them as a Premium brand across Europe via the Opel dealer network. Ship Opel into the Uk as Opels and sell them through the Vauxhall network. And then see if they can grow their way out of the problem.

    Vauxhall would no doubt lose sales in the UK but hopefully Opel would pick them back up. Meanwhile Cadillac would via Vauxhall grow sales from about 1 car a year to perhaps hundreds of thousands a year via the Vauxhall brand. Vauxhall being a better bet than Cadillac because Europeans still don’t believe Americans understand how to do premium.

    • 0 avatar
      MattMan

      Tsatg beat me to it: Chevy and Opel are not competitors.

      To me, the real “Chevy” question is “Should GM continue to dilute the Chevy name in Europe?”

      “Chevy” has such bad connotations that GM has to sell the Corvette as a stand-alone brand.

    • 0 avatar
      kitzler

      I sort of agree with you Tstag, as far as I can see, the market for new cars falls into three segments, cheap like Civic or Corolla or Focus, then SUV’s and finally a step up to luxury. If you do take that step, why not go all the way and get something with a brand, like Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac, Genesis or even Lexus, if your into Asian brands.

      Let’s face it, when I buy a vehicle, I not only look at the purchase cost, but also at the residual value. No matter how cheap or good a car is, if the re-sale value sucks, it is definitely a no-go.

      Problem with brands like Opel, it takes a long time to build a name that will translate into a good trade-in value

      • 0 avatar
        jacek

        No, no, no! Civics and Corollas are not part of cheap segment in Europe. They are admired for reliability and criticized for lack of style. SUV’s are just style. Mercedes and BMW are – for some stupid reasons – much more appreciated than Lexus or Infiniti (forget Genesis). There is no space for Cadillac, like there never was space for French premium cars.

        Opel is very old brand and now they have better cars than they ever had, at least in last 30 years. Opel has no big problem with trade-in value. Actually Opel is selling less, because market is smaller. GM was just completely not prepared for that. Typical result of quarter&stock oriented thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Realistically, Cadillacs aren’t getting “rebadged/restyled” into anything. Cadillacs stay Cadillacs, no matter where they’re sold.

      It makes more sense for the existing Opel/Vauxhall model lineups to be streamlined and rebadged as Chevrolets en masse, thus aligning Europe with most of the rest of the world.

      In other words, Opel and Vauxhall kick the bucket, and are collectively replaced by Chevy (budget/mainstream) and Cadillac (premium).

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > In other words, Opel and Vauxhall kick the bucket, and are
        > collectively replaced by Chevy (budget/mainstream) and Cadillac
        > (premium).

        Killing a strugling but very recognizable (among 300 millions customers) brand and replacing it with two technically meaningless ones never made any sense and never will.

        Opel problems do not come from cars (these are fairly good, especially the core models like Corsa, Astra(!) and Insignia) but from flawed relations with its workforce/unions and too little (or too inefficient) platform/component/engine sharing. This is to be fixed. Another issue is extremely poor presence in SUV/CUV segment. And, obviously, no premium segment offerings but you can’t reach the sufficient level for this with technology from GM shelves.

        Deawoo got canned because their very first line of cars already proved to be a genuine pile of junk. And got commonly recognized as the winning race to the bottom. You got what you paid for far too much with the Deawoo.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      It is complicated to label Chevrolet and Opel as far as brand image goes in Europe. For one, Opel doesn’t really enjoy a strong position anymore. There is a reason why they are bleeding while Volkswagen excels. Once they were neck and neck, that’s not the case anymore.

      Chevrolet, on the other hand, offers value and it’s not by chance that they’ve put out a 14% growth in a moment where everybody this side of Volkswagen is suffering.

      I’ve always asked myself why did they pull the plug on Daewoo, if Chevrolet was never a budget brand. Would they turn it into Opel’s Dacia? I didn’t think so back then and I don’t think so now. It is fair to think that in some point down the like Opel, Vauxhall and Holden will be terminated to make way to a true global Chevrolet presence. I believe this decision was taken not this week but a while ago.

      There’s the reason why GM denied Opel the chance to go to the BRICs.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Why not can Cadillac as it is not selling well? I could imagine the reaction if GM did that. It would be similar to canning Holden and Vauxhall. Former brand supporters would go somewhere else for their cars, in Australia’s case, Japanese and Korean (non-Dawoo)cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Just one problem in markets like the UK and Germany Chevy’s are seen as just about the worst form of cheap car, nothing more than modern day Daewoos.

      Isn’t that what they are? The Top Gear Reasonably Priced Car was a Chevrolet Lacetti…

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Top Gear now have a Kia Cee’d and I would say Kia has some brand awareness. So I take your point but brands can grow beyond a Top Gear parody – Skoda is a great example of that.

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        Dr. Ken –

        Chevys are seen as the worst form of cheap car AT THE MOMENT, but that has to and will change. Opel is just as gutless a brand, only it’s an _orphan_ brand – it only exists in Europe, and Vauxhall only in the UK.

        Chevrolet is now a global brand and isn’t going anywhere. There’s no reason I can see for keeping the orphans around. I propose a quick elimination of Opel and Vauxhall so Chevy’s long climb to respectability can begin.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Chevrolet is an American car brand. Problem is Americans are not known for make good cars which is a bit of a problem when you try to sell cars.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Trust me, this wouldn’t work. Europe knows Vauxhall is Opel and the UK vice versa. Bear in mind, they were once sold alongside each other as the same car.

      Chevrolet will never replace Opel, unless they want to lose most of their European sales. Chevy is still a TINY player in Europe.

      If anything, I’d replace Opel across Europe with Vauxhall. I’m from the UK, and when I speak to Europeans they say that Vauxhall seems somehow younger and sportier than Opel. Opel is grandad’s car.
      Maybe that’s why the UK is GM’s only strong European market? Vauxhall doesn’t have a particularly bad image.

  • avatar
    nvdw

    That’s quite a question, Bertel.

    I read this line of thinking lately.

    What keeps Opel alive, apart from all the obligations to workers, unions and local governments, are those 500,000 cars sold. I can only guess GM’s biggest fear is that not all those customers are going to run to the Chevrolet dealership once their beloved brand is shut down.

    But then again, building 500,000 cars with huge losses can never be the alternative to selling 130,000 Chevrolets that do make a profit.

    Chevrolet might not have that much value as a brand in Europe, but it has a big advantage over Opel and Vauxhall: its name isn’t tied to local production. You can build the cars virtually everywhere and no one would care.

    Opel has no future as a ‘premium’ brand or even as a ‘value’ brand since it is so far behind on so many levels. Look at Ford, Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat; all the classic European brands are eaten alive in a market that either buys Korean or buys premium. Volkswagen saw that coming and took the necessary steps ages ago, as you said correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with you that the mainstream European brands like FIAT, Ford, Peugeot are all losing share. With VW (possible exception of SEAT) the exception. That is why the move started a few years ago of moving upmarket (not to BMW/Audi levels, but more like VW levels) was a reasonable idea. It also helps if Opel and Buick are tied together (not the original plan but seemingly so now) since Buick is a step up from Chevy (or should be). So I would at the moment persist with moving Opel upmarket – as the Adam car indicates and try to emulate VW.
      Another possibility is if they hold out maybe another mainstream manufacturer will falter and they can then pick up some of the lost market share.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      nvdw, I believe you’ve nailed it.

      500k Opel buyers will not go out and buy Korean Chevy’s. They will go buy other German cars like VW’s and Fords. Chevy will pick up a few sales by cross marketing and offering stupid cheap deals–like what they did here.

      However, at the end of the day, selling 130k cars at a profit beats 500k at a loss, and they no longer have the burden of European unions and high costs.

      The Opel brand is tarnished. The cars are still good, though, so no matter what they do, hopefully they retain some of that intellectual property and use it to make better Chevy’s, even if they’re Korean Chevy’s.

      The immediate costs will be very high, but there is no reason to keep bleeding the ink, and the markets will probably reward a quick and drastic action. Kill Opel quickly, and offer the designers/engineers pay raises and nice homes in Detroit (which GM can get a good deal on!).

  • avatar
    dcars

    I voted kill it quickly, but the correct answer is kill it slowly. GM’s Daewoo strategy worked. Over time Daewoo became irrelevant. GM needs an upmarket brand and Peugeot could fill that roll. Opel just doesn’t fit the upmarket brand and Buick needs an evil twin.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    I have no clue. But I would like to see more Opel and Holden influence in all of GM, that would help them become more “World Class” if you will. Heck…bring Opel here as the new Pontiac, and Holden as the new Oldsmobile…or something like that.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    As difficult as it is to fix a brand, it’s usually easier to fix a bad brand than it is to replace it. (For a case study, look to Hyundai’s recent gains in the US.)

    It seems that GM’s goal of shifting more of its cost base to Asia is getting in the way of proper brand management in Europe. The old GM had a poor track record of balancing cost management with its other needs, and the new GM may not be much better in that respect.

    That being said, GM’s long-term prospects in Europe are going to be dim if it can’t move upmarket. These companies need margin, and it is hard to squeeze margin out of bargain-basement cars. A strategy that disregards the need to take on BMW and Mercedes at the upper end is bound to eventually fizzle out.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    you are joshing of course, Peugeot as an upmarket brand, I mean a French car as an upmarket vehicle, I am rolling on the floor laughing!!

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Not sure why you’re laughing. Citreon, a French brand, has long been known as an upscale car in Europe though they’re, how shall I put this, interestingly styled.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr.Nick

        Maybe in the 1960s with DeGaulle riding in his DS. Neither Renault, Peugeot nor Citroen have been able to sell large premium cars for 30 years.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Citroen has always sold cheaper cars than just about any other European maker, from the 2CV to today’s C1. They also used to make adventurous luxury cars, but their latest attempt is just embarrassing and sells in numbers that Ferrari wouldn’t be happy with.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I would suppose it would depend on your idea of large, premium. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy for example preferred Renault, while Jacques Chirac was a Citroën fan, occasionally using his own long-wheelbase Citroën CX model and the presidential Citroën XM. President Francois Hollande used a Citroen DS5 for his inauguration parade in 2012. (cited from Wikipedia)

        Citroen does make some large wheel based cars that I remember many Germans driving while I was stationed in Europe. Peugeut was always known as the more plebian ride.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr.Nick

        The Prime Ministers of France have to ride in French products so that doesn’t count for prestige.

  • avatar

    GME suffers from the same problem as GMNA. it boils down to selling more units. when cars are selling these problems go away. lacking the knowledge and ability needed to do that, restructurings and closings remain the order of the day. like JoPa they could fix it, but instead choose to not listen. organizations and individuals once considered institutions suffer as a result. just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      nvdw

      Buickman,

      Selling more units is not going to happen, not in a market which has become as saturated as Europe.

      There are two options:

      1) You offer cheap cars that can be priced very low because their production costs are low. Case in point: the small VW-Seat-Skoda and Toyota-PSA triplets. Opel does not offer anything in this market, Chevrolet does.

      2) You build cars that are so desirable, people are willing to pay a premium for it. Opel is trying this by flogging a smaller Opel Corsa for more money by making it look like an Audi A1. Everybody knows the Mini. Who knows the Opel Adam already, pre-ordered it, liked it a million times on Facebook? My money is on ‘virtually nobody’.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      No, Penn State was an immoral institution, GM is just an inept institution.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    There’s no reason I can see for GM to keep the Opel or Vauxhall brands. They’re more recognized, but no more respected than Chevy or Cadillac, brands that already have a global presence. They are dead brands walking. The sooner they’re gone and replaced with the globally stronger Chevy brand, the better. Chevy may have a reputation for Korean crap, but so did Hyundai and Kia, and now look at them. If they keep making good products like they have, Chevy’s image will improve.

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      Philadlj: That brings up a thought I had a while back…Hyundai/KIA have improved and become the darlings of media regarding their quality improvement, etc…I think GM has improved also, but they do not seem to get the over positive spotlight. Internal rot exists in every large company, some hide it mo’ betta than others, so, is it the “tall poppy” syndrome, or something else?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      ” They’re more recognized, but no more respected than Chevy or Cadillac, brands that already have a global presence.”
      Well looking at this thread, there is very little global presence or respect for either. Chevrolet is a bargain basement brand sold mainly in Eastern Europe and Cadillac is sold in tiny numbers in Europe.

  • avatar
    dude500

    This is probably a great time to sell a factory in Europe – given that BMW, Audi and Mercedes are looking for production capacity. It may be a win/win/win for everyone involved (GM/factory workers/buyer).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    GM needs to realize the every other car maker has hired Pinky and the Brain as consultants. Their goals? “Same old thing, total world domination”. GM needs to reduce redundancy and assign particular vehicles to one division; then tell them to make the best type of that vehicle they can. Maybe GM Korea, work with me here, for cheap cars, or rebadge some Peugeots for some funkiness, Opel/Holden for sporty and a tick more upscale cars. Corvette, Cadillac, and GM Truck? Should stay in Detroit. Always. Instead, they act like Ren and Stimpy.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    It would be interesting to see where Opel is actually selling and where Chevy is actually selling. My understanding is that Chevy is gaining in eastern Europe and Opel sells better in western Europe where they want nicer vehicles.

    To make this work long term, I think Opel would have above Chevy, but that is difficult as GM tries to make some Chevys nicer. Part of the problem with Opel is uncertainty with it. No one wants to be a car from a brand on the chopping block.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Typical `old` GM thinking: They sold 500,000 Opels. Thus, they can sell 500,000 Chevys which are cheaper to build and they will make more money. Europe is in a financial mess similar to us in 2008-9 and it is going to get worse before it gets better. It may be totally valid that GM can make a larger profit selling fewer cars, but they will have to accept a shrinking worldwide marketshare which is not in their DNA.

  • avatar

    Opel is an established German, and therefore established European brand. Chevy is considered a “cheap” brand. In addition, most American Brands are considered inferior to either European or Asian brands. Finally, the European car market these days is not exactly ripe for a brand re-launch.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Question for the mainland Euros.

    I’ve been told there are Holden dealerships in western Europe – but I’ve always found that hard to believe. Are Holdens sold as Holdens in Europe (I know Vauxhall gets the VE Commodore as a VXR8 in the UK)

    • 0 avatar
      fabriced28

      No.

      There was a time when Vauxhall dealers were established on the continent, while Opel dealers did the same in the UK. It did not last. Holden was never even present there, the exception being some gray market imports in the UK.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    Buick is totally unknown here in Europe. Most people still think that Cadillacs are huge landbarges of inferior quality. Chevy has a worse reputation than Opel here and people think about big powerful cars when they think about Chevrolet (Suburban, big RWD Impalas with V8, Camaro…even if this was +30years ago). Actually Opel has a stronger line up than ever, but most people have not realised that. And it doesn’t matter as long as they are loosing money. Yes Europe is an economical mess and there’s a big over capacity and unless the politicians take some of the 60% we pay in taxes and subsidize, some will have to go. Close Opel and Vauxhall. Produce these cars somewhere else and sell them as Opel and Vauxhalls in Europe. Opel, Renault, Seat, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa, Peugeot, Citroen… how many will bite the dust?

  • avatar
    msquare

    Need a rewind here. Why is Opel a tarnished brand when just about everyone agrees its product line is competitive?

    What is the real root of Opel’s problems? Is it the overall EU economic situation? Is it prohibitive overhead?

    And are the problems afflicting Opel the same as those holding back the entire European market?

    Why must GM make everything a Chevy? Holden is regarded as a native Australian brand. Changing over to Chevy is utterly pointless as it will hurt sales. And save for the Commodore, most of the Holden line is either Daewoo or Opel-derived. In South America, much of the Chevy product line is actually Opel. So Opel is kind of redundant in many parts of the world.

    Accounting can be a very funny thing. On paper, Opel is losing money as a separate entity. If you figure in the sales and profits of all the Opel products sold worldwide, I’ll bet the books look a lot different.

    Kill Opel, kill GM.

    • 0 avatar
      fabriced28

      I quite agree there. But the perception of Opel today is that of a losing brand. Mostly because the two preceding generations of cars were utterly boring inside out, rode badly and they had one complete failure of en engine, the 2.0 DTI, which happened to be the best selling one. At least before it was noticed what crap it was. These cars had no selling point at all, they were average.
      Brand perception can survive one generation of bad cars, but not two, and everyone knows how long this sticks with you. Today they have good cars, brand perception could go up slowly, but easily. If there were no constant talking of Opel in the press in the “business downturn” column. GM should just shut up and let the products do the work.

      • 0 avatar
        stroker49

        It is funny that some brand seems to be teflon treated. MB was rustbuckets 10 years ago and the VW/Audi 2,0 TDI around 2005 was blowing up (cam chain/oil pump/balance axles). But it didn’t hurt those brand much. It seems like Opel and Fiat will have to make decent cars for 20 years before the reputation goes away.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      Now that the Zafira and the Meriva are dead, the last Opel in GM’s southern america lineup is the ageing Classic, itself a botox-ed version of Mk.2 Corsa. Other than that Opel sells cars with its own branding in Chile but that’s it. There’s also the mexican version of the Antara and the remaining stock of the Mk. 3 Corsa Sedan.

      All the other cars being produced these days are either developed locally or sourced from Korea. The point is, Opel products are no longer the core of what GM does overseas.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr.Nick

      The expense of manufacturing in Australia is in no way worth it

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        “The expense of manufacturing in Australia is in no way worth it”. It is like stop making all Chevrolets in North American and importing them from Thailand.We do export Holdens, but the high Aussie Dollar is not helping exports(Middle East, New Zealand and Brazil, USA will have the new Holden Commodore soon)

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Problem with the Frenche is they think radical styling equates luxury, read Vel Satis by Renauld, well it may work for handbags, it just doesn’t work for cars. The Citroen DS was a technical marvel, until you had to return to the repair shop monthly, who need the aggravation

  • avatar
    albert

    Yeah, let’s do that, let’s kill Opel. And then what? Then we dismiss of those European engineers! Way overpaid. And then we go on with Korean and North American designed and engineered cars.
    Get real folks! GM would be back to cars like the Pontiac LeMans of 1983. Looks like an Opel, but worse in quality.
    The problems for Opel started when GM decided to have one engineering standard. And that was not the Opel standard. So Opel lost its good name and suffers ever since.
    Another reason for the bleeding of now: the constant discussing about what to do with Opel is causing potential buyers to move away quickly.
    You don’t want to put your money into that.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Opel is German for Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Coexist! Trollolololol!
    http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/296/coexistd.jpg

    Seriously though, knowing several Vauxhall fanboys back in the UK (they’re much the same as Chevy fanboys), if you were to take away their beloved Griffin and replace it with a bow tie, the betrayal would never be forgotten. For the average consumer though, if it were merely a rebadging of existing Vauxhall products, I don’t think there would be so much of a problem. However if sh*tcanning Opel/Vauxhall meant that the product lineup disappeared and was replaced by the ‘Chevy’ lineup, all GM would do is hand all the other manufacturers a huge number of customers who would not want to migrate to an inferior product (sorry, but that’s how Chevy if viewed in the UK).

  • avatar
    fabriced28

    Lets be clear: in Europe Chevrolet is competing with Dacia, maybe with Skoda by a large stretch of imagination. Don’t even think about Hyundai. Mitsubishi is seen as luxury besides it! They may have changed the badge, but it remains korean crap. Only the Captiva made a positive impact on their image, but it’s getting old and the Cruze is not going the same way.

    If GM kills Opel, they will get exactly zero new customer for Chevrolet, for plenty of good reasons: Germans will hate GM, and the rest will simply look for better cars, by VW, Ford, even the French or Hyundai. Chevrolet are simply not competitive, and the image is horrendous.

    When one vital part of your body is bleeding, you just don’t shoot it.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    It’s easy, merge the dealer networks into Chevrolet/Opel dealers, import Buicks, Holdens and the Camaro (yes, the Camaro, perhaps as an Opel Manta) to sell as Opels and Vauxhalls and move those two brands upmarket.

    The Germans and Brits won’t forgive GM for killing off their beloved brands but might give Chevrolet a look if it’s available alongside the Opels and Vauxhalls.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      Buicks are Opels. Camaro is an American idea of a sports car which are always highly successful in Europe, or not. And changes in exchange rate can kill you. But dealing with a 2 month lead time is also good for business. Also assembly costs aren’t that big of a deal nor is transportation (2x with diesel engines) and interest free

  • avatar
    msquare

    What Opel needs to do is what Ford did with the original Taurus in the States and the MkI Focus worldwide. Both were able to pull Ford out a funk.

    Before the Focus, Ford still had the Escort, which was considered dull as dishwater and hardly competitive with Golfs, etc. Ford had to make a splash with the Escort replacement, and it did.

    Here’s Jeremy Clarkson’s original review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmx2e9FN8B4

    Does Opel have the know-how to make a new Astra-class (don’t call it that) car that can raise the bar for the class? Certainly. They have to do it if they have any hope of breaking out.

  • avatar
    Dr.Nick

    The best move for GM would be winding down Opel and Vauxhall and take the good Opel product, merge it with the global Chevrolet product line and manufacture in cost effective countries like South Korea, Eastern Europe or wherever they can. Chevrolet can climb to respectability over time The Europeans were laughing at Hyundai and Kia as well, not so much anymore.

  • avatar
    George B

    Maybe it’s best to keep Opel separate from Chevrolet. The most important job for GM is to make fully competitive high volume models in their large markets of China and North America. It’s my impression that the South Korea Daewoo team did a good job of making a price constrained compact Chevrolet Cruze that’s better than the Toyota Corolla, but Opel missed the mark by making the new Chevrolet Malibu too heavy to compete effectively with the Toyota Camry.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Leadership.

    Is there a leader who can ride in and save GM or Opel? Is there anyone like Steve Jobs who returned to save Apple from the Pepsi salesman?

    Is there a gifted leader who can bring out cars people don’t even know they want?

  • avatar
    Robbie

    It would be very short-run and GM-like to first wreck Opel, then stop selling 500,000 cars in Europe by paying unions a fortune, and replace it by low quality Korean stuff that Europeans will learn to despise very quickly.

  • avatar
    solracer

    If it were up to me I’d solve Opel’s problems not by replacing it with Chevrolet but rather selling real Opels in the US again, probably though Buick dealers just like the last time. But then I’ve always been one for nostalgia when it comes to car brands…

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I’ll say it again please stop thinking of Vauxhall as Opel. Vauxhall has efficient factories and is strong in the UK. Opel as inefficient factories and doesn’t sell as well as Vauxhall in any single market. Vauxhall is therefore the stronger brand. Replacing it with Opel or Chevrolet would be an act of gross mismanagement. GM should look to the UK to lead its efforts in Europe again. Establish Vauxhall as a pan European premium brand. Let Chevy do the bottom end and then let Opel fix itself or go to the wall.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      uhuh.. The only difference between Opels and Vauxhalls is that Opels have the wheel on the left and Vauxhalls on the right, they cannot be separated and are identical products.

  • avatar
    fabriced28

    Surely that’s why Ellesmere Port is under threat… The idea of Vauxhall as a premium brand is also laughable. Especially in the UK!
    The fate of these twins is one and the same, whether you like it or not.

  • avatar
    Speedster356

    OPELs are not considered cool cars in Germany, or Europe.
    They are perceived as a German/European brand though, but certainly inferior to all other German brands.
    They are not cheap, but the usually come well equipped and there is the possibility to configure a car with custom order.
    The introduction of small turbos helped sales a lot (in some markets), but the fuel efficiency is not considered ideal.
    The high-tech equipment level comes with a price. Reliability.
    Reliability is a problem with all German brands, but there is an explanation for that.
    Germans are considered very conservative. However, in auto-building they are the first to introduce any crazy high-end technology (and charge you good money for it).
    If you compare to the direct competition of Japanese and Korean models, (when that is possible) the Asian models appear to be at least one generation behind.
    I decided to never own an OPEL again as I had a very bad experience owning one for 16 years (‘93 Astra). Despite moderate use, it would eat away the (low quality) consumables used to build it, and I could virtually find the exact same reliability and wear issues when talking to any owner of the same model, regardless of mileage and use.
    Despite the fact that most current OPELs are well styled, option packed and relatively well priced, they appear to have the same reliability issues as 2-3 decades ago.

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    The only option for Opel is becoming a mid-premium brand (models based on Super Epsilon II, Theta Premium, V6 Diesel, AT8 from Ford/Jaguar/PSA). Still, GM desperately needs super low budget brands worldwide. And a split between a rugged, sporty range of brands and a range of affordable luxury brands. Depending on local market needs.

    Wuling (= Lada) – Chevrolet (= Kia, Skoda, Fiat) – Corvette (= BMW, Porsche, Infiniti)
    Alpheon (= Dacia) – Opel / Buick / Holden (= VW, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford) – Cadillac (= MB, Audi, Lexus)

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Ford sells Fords all over the world. Yes, the models differ somewhat in each market but increasingly the differences are smaller and smaller. No one is under the delusion though that Ford is anything other than an American company with a strong presence in other markets such as Europe.

    GM seems to take a more convulated approach by trying to seperate Opel from the American Company. Here is an idea GM…You are an American Company. If you don’t like how Europeans feel about American cars then build better cars. Don’t try to pass yourself off as something you aren’t. If you want to keep the brand, fine, but I think Ford’s strategy is a bit easier to figure out here.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      “One Ford” is not exactly setting the world on fire.Also there is no “One Ford”, the F series, Edge, Flex ,Expedition, Mustang and Explorer are not sold outside North America.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @Robert Ryan – If you’ve ever needed aid from fire & rescue, ambulance, police or just a tow truck, you’re no doubt, pretty familiar with F-Series. This is after a $10K RHD conversion. F-Series are widely used, in this capacity, around the world despite this or other penalties.

        Of course you’ve noticed civilian Super Dutys in Australia and although North American cars aren’t well received around the world, some of this is due to political or retaliatory tariff reasons.

        NA OEMs are only guilty of custom tailoring cars and light pickups for the specific needs and desires of Americans. Well at least the successful ones and you’re not being totally honest with yourself if you think these would not also sell in big numbers if they were offered for sale along side your domestic offerings (at a similar price point) in Australia.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Last year, when I was returning the rental car at CDG airport, there was an american lady in front of me arguing about extra pay for not fueled up chevy, based on American custom – perhaps that was the only car offered for automatic.
    Clerk seems to be hating both the client and the car. “Les Americans…”
    When my turn finally came, I got the best smile possible for returning fueled up Opel Insingia.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Denvermike. They use Mercedes Sprinters and Isuzu based based Hazmat trucks here. Most “Tow Trucks” are the sliding bed variety on Cabover Japanese MDT’s

    “although North American cars aren’t well received around the world, some of this is due to political or retaliatory tariff reasons.”
    No not at all. You build the product people want, then they will buy it.

    ” Well at least the successful ones and you’re not being totally honest with yourself if you think these would not also sell in big numbers if they were offered for sale along side your domestic offerings”

    No they would not sell. You have to offer a product that will sell here, simple as that.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Robert Ryan – North America has cars unique to NA, same as Australia has cars unique to it. Every continent has cars that don’t translate well around the world. Falcon and Holden Utes come to mind.

      Tariffs and politics aside, there isn’t necessarily a big enough call for bigger NA SUVs or full-size trucks in most parts of the world. At least not like there is NA.

      As far as imports go, F-Series do get widely used around the world for fire & rescue, ambulance, police and tow trucks. This includes OZ/NZ. The RHD conversion isn’t cheap, nor is shipping, whatever fees and red tape. I’d say that’s a pretty strong demand. There’s nothing quite like them.

      http://www.111emergency.co.nz/AMBULANCE/World-Aus/
      /RTJ588f.jpg

      http://www.111emergency.co.nz/FIRE/EasternRelief/
      /BFQ574.JPG

      This plus E-Series.

      It’s not that the Mustang GT isn’t wanted outside of NA, but its 5.0 engine doesn’t meet the EU’s tough new Emissions. Nor do most EU OEMs, but existing engines are grandfathered in for now.


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