The alliance between GM and PSA is beginning to show concrete results – not just yet, but at least they decided to work on them. In a joint press release, GM and PSA announced that they will jointly work on what they call “three common vehicle platform development projects.” Meaning cars. Finally.
And not too early. The impending divorce between the couple had already been pronounced several times by a high-revving rumor mill, even a new partner for PSA was floated, Tata in India.
The negotiations must have been interesting up to the last minute. Last weekend, Opel’s interim-chief Thomas Sedran said that the two were still “negotiating joint development of four new model series.” Three days later, it’s down to three. Which may actually turn out as one platform. Here they are:
1. A joint program for a C-MPV for Opel/Vauxhall and a C-CUV for the Peugeot brand
2. A joint MPV program for the B-segment for both Groups
3. The co-development of an upgraded low CO2 B-segment platform to feed Opel/Vauxhall and PSA’s next generation of cars in Europe and other regions
The fourth model series conspicuously missing is a common platform to underpin the successors of Opel’s Insignia, Peugeot’s 508 and Citroen’s C5. This project caused much excitement over the last months. French hairs stood up on end on the prospect that French cars could be built in German Rüsselsheim. Chinese feathers allegedly were ruffled, because Buick China did not want to share their Insignia platform.
Now let’s look at the surviving three projects.
A C-MPV program should deliver the successors of Opel’s Zafira (based on Astra) and Peugeot’s 5008 (based on 308).
The B-MPV program should do the same for the Citroen C3 Picasso (based on Citroen C3 and Peugeot 207/208) and the Opel Meriva (based on the Corsa).
MPVs in these classes nearly always are derivatives of higher-volume models, respective donor cars are noted above. It would make little sense to jointly develop MPVs which then would have to be “be highly differentiated and fully consistent with their respective brand characteristics” as the press release promises, if they would not sit on a common donor platform, n’est-ce pas?
This is where the third project could come in. That “upgraded low CO2 B-segment platform” would be a replacement for the Citroen C3 and Peugeot 208 on the French side, and for the bread and butter Opel Corsa on Opel’s side. Apparently, a totally new platform is not in the car(d)s. It will be interesting to learn who’s platform will bite the dust and who’s will be “upgraded.” The French side sits on the PSA PF1 platform. The German side at Opel uses the SCCS platform which was jointly developed with Fiat. At Opel, it is used by Corsa and Meriva. At Fiat, the italo-germanic platform underpins a small army of cars, up to the Fiat 500L, X, and possibly XL.
So far, so complicated. But wait, what about the C-platform? They don’t really want to tell us that the joint C-MPV will sit on an upgraded Delta platform at Opel, while using revamped innards of the 308 as a foundation at PSA? A modern platform architecture should be able to span two classes (easy to say for Volkswagen). Ample grist for the mill, for years to come.
Oh, the “first vehicles resulting from this cooperation are expected to be launched in 2016.” So let’s get on with it.
PS: ”Based on the success of their collaboration, the partners also announce their intention for new additional global initiatives to broaden the scope of their Alliance and seize future opportunities” (translation: if they get on alright, they might:)
“Co-develop a next generation of high-performance, efficient small gas engines derived from PSA’s global small petrol engine program (EB engine).” (Would that be LPG or CNG?)
“Explore product and industrial initiatives in Latin America or other growth markets.” (Something Opel needs badly. Now.)