By on June 27, 2013

“To suffer”


With luck- and hapless Susan Docherty cleaning out her desk in Europe, GM needs someone else to lead Chevrolet in Europe. They found Thomas Sedran, who will take the helm at Chevrolet’s EU HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. Sedran will start in July, says Reuters,  while Docherty will be leaving GM in September.

Sedran needs no formal introduction here at TTAC. He infamously served as the interim-interim CEO of GM’s Opel, a job he received  last July, when he replaced interim CEO Stephen Girsky, who replaced the comparatively longer-serving CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke.

While battlefield-promoted Sedran was manning the ramparts in Rüsselsheim, GM could look for a real CEO of Opel. He was found in the former Volkswagen exec Karl-Thomas Neumann.

Sedran currently holds the strategy portfolio in Opel’s board. “Strategy” slots are – at least among European automakers – often either parking positions, or camouflage titles for other work.

We shall leave an overview of Chevy’s situation in Europe to the much cooler heads at Reuters, who wrote:

“Chevy, which imports cars to Europe almost exclusively from GM’s South Korean unit, has lost ground to low-cost rivals Hyundai Motor Co  and Kia Motors Corp.

While Chevrolet’s market share in Europe dropped to 1.1 percent during the first five months of this year from the average 1.3 percent when Docherty took over at the start of 2012, Korean budget brands Hyundai and Kia grew theirs by roughly half a percentage point each, to 3.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Cadillac sold fewer than 500 cars in western and central Europe last year out of the roughly 196,000 Cadillacs sold worldwide.”

As head of Chevrolet Europe, Sedran takes charge of a suicide mission. The EU market is in disarray, old brands fight for survival, new brands are in daily peril of being trampled. What’s more, Sedran has – except for his short-lived stand-in stint – no experience in running a brand, or a carmaker. His expertise lies in selling off the bones and usable organs of dead companies. Sedran came to GM and Opel as an Alix Partner consultant. Alix says they are the industry benchmark when it comes to putting a dollar amount on “a distressed or bankrupt company or its assets.”

“It’s like putting a funeral director in charge of an emergency room,” quipped an executive of  a European OEM, when I ran into him in an ill-reputed Berlin bar last night. “But who knows, maybe it’s really the New GM, and they are planning ahead.”

In related news, Opel found a new Marketing Director. It is Tina Müller, previously in charge of Henkel’s Beauty Care cosmetics division for Western Europe..  To ward off snarky comments: Henkel, and especially the beauty care division, are run with more military precision than West Point, and Frau Müller will soon miss it.

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