By on January 21, 2013

GM’s troubled European daughter Opel finally will get a more permanent CEO.  As rumored since last year, it is the former Volkswagen manager Karl-Thomas Neumann.  German Automobilwoche [sub] expects Neumann to be confirmed by Opel’s supervisory board on January 31.

Neumann is expected to take over on March 1 from interim-chief Thomas Sedran, who had replaced short-term-interim-chief Stephen Girsky. Even non-interim chiefs of Opel have a very short shelf life. Historically, an Opel CEO does not last longer than three years on average.

Opel wanted to hand the reigns to Neumann earlier, but there were contractual ties with Volkswagen. Volkswagen now generously allows Neumann to go three months earlier than the end of his contract.

Neumann’s last job at VW was head of its Chinese operations. Last summer, Neumann was toppled in China. It had been leaked that the reason was problems with Volkswagen’s dual clutch transmission, which Neumann allegedly had ignored. My informants in Beijing had a different story: Neumann was too timid with his sales forecasts for China, they said. He only budgeted 3 million units until 2018. New China chief Jochem Heizmann immediately budgeted for a Strategie 2018 compliant 4 million.

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12 Comments on “Opel To Get Ostrich As CEO...”

  • avatar

    Considering VW sold 2.81M units in China in 2012, a 2018 target of 3M was rather timid; 4M requires maintaining an annual growth rate of only 6%.

    If that’s what Neumann insisted on, I can certainly understand why he was replaced.

    • 0 avatar

      True, although it can be viewed from the other angle that he gave what he thought was a reasonable estimate and didn`t just want to give his superiors what they wanted to hear. That could be classed as showing some backbone. I agree 3 millions sounds low, but the Chinese market is only now growing slowly. 4 million probably is too high and it will be somewhere in the middle.

      • 0 avatar

        It could indeed be in the middle. But 2018 is six years away, it’s simply not possible to do any kind of accurate estimates (the US analysts can’t even get it right for the next month!). The 2018 number is a target, a goal to be achieved.

        And as a long-term goal 4M units seems to be a reasonable one, achievable with the right decisions, the right products and hard work — and the right market conditions. Reach for the top …

    • 0 avatar

      Timid or not, he must of had good reasons. Letting him go because his reasoning is poor is valid. Not just that you don’t like his numbers.

  • avatar

    Who knows what will happen in China six years from now? That may be the very question Neumann was asking, but the VW leadership was not. When things are going well, people tend to think it’ll go on forever, or at least that if something happens, they’ll see it coming.

    Anybody over 30 has seen both the dot com and real estate booms come to a rather abrupt end, with the financial system that supported both finally cracking under the strain. China has financial strains of its own, and while the total collapse some people seem to be rooting for may not happen, there are sure to be bumps in the road ahead.

    Neumann may have had very good reason to be cautious long term, but was unable to convince Wolfsburg. That sort of disagreement has altered career paths many times before.

  • avatar

    His new job is at the opposite end of the spectrum of management as VW China. This will be interesting. Rescue work in the worst market on the planet versus outgrow the other guy in the hottest market in the planet.

  • avatar

    He looks more like Beaker, but I can see a little Ostrich.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    He does not look overly upset about it. Among other things, may wish to live in Europe again.

  • avatar

    Girsky is there to close factories and eliminate jobs on the Continent. he did it in NA. each day the obits list another few folks who no longer get bennies. the closures are still happening (see Grand Blanc). what we read is only what they want us to know and think. NEVER trust a bankster, particularly one with the ties this imposter possesses.

    who heads Opel matters not, it’s only a figurative position as the international elitists are going to do as they wish regardless, and that is close as much production out of Western Europe as possible.

    Danny Boy and his behind the scene kingmakers have their own plans ‘ya know. they don’t want to sell more cars like Wagoner didn’t. they couldn’t shutter plants that way. same game, different country. only diff is those Saxony boys are a bit tougher than the feeble and weak minded followers of Solidarity House.

  • avatar

    He has an impossible task. People are not buying Opels. They have always been cheap to buy and cheaply made, but now they are not cheap to buy. They don´t have a brand cachet, so why buy an Opel?

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