The great October surprise announcement of progress at GM’s Opel front is turning into an October letdown. What will be announced “this month, early next month” will be a joint purchasing agreement between GM and 7 percent partner PSA Peugeot Citroen, GM CEO Dan Akerson told Reuters ahead of the Sao Paulo Auto Show’s media preview. In the industry, the joint purchasing agreement is seen as a non-event.
“Joint purchasing without joint development and joint platforms is smoking joints,” quipped an executive of a competing European carmaker. “Even with joint platforms, it takes a lot of discipline. Engineers like their own parts, I speak from experience.” Loose procurement pacts, such as the one between Daimler and BMW usually lead to nowhere. Even with joint platforms, savings through common parts often are no more than a noble goal. Opel’s interim-chief Thomas Sedran recently complained that parts from GM’s bin often are too expensive, and by sourcing them elsewhere, one can save a lot of money. “We are talking a significant order of magnitude,” Sedran said.
The GM/PSA joint purchasing program is as old as the announcement of GM’s and PSA’s semi-nuptials. The pooling of R&D, vehicle platforms and technologies has not happened. Plans of platform sharing between Opel and PSA were shot down, allegedly because China intervened, some cited other reasons.
Last weekend in Brazil, everybody waited for GM to announce joint Brazilian production with PSA, but that won’t happen either. “So far the entire focus of the alliance has been Europe and I expect that to continue for some time,” GM’s South America chief Jaime Ardila told Reuters, pulling the rug from under optimistic leaks by French and Brazilian union officials which had said that PSA and GM would be planning to build small cars together in Brazil.