By on February 24, 2011

GM is pushing its Chevrolet brand as a ”world brand,” reports the Freep. First battlefields for global bowtiefication: Europe and Korea. In Korea, the matter is easy: Last month, they took off the Daewoo badge and put a bowtie on instead. As predicted by TTAC nearly a year ago. There is not much that can go wrong in Korea: Hyundai dominates the market, Dawoo’s and now Chevrolet’s market share treads water in the single digits.

In Europe, any substantial market penetration by Chevrolet is “still a long-term goal,” concedes the Freep. And then, the Detroit paper proceeds to publish completely bogus numbers: “Chevrolet sold only 477,000 vehicles in Europe last year, compared with Opel and Vauxhall’s combined 1.2 million,” purports the Freep.

No, they did not. According to official ACEA numbers, Opel’s and Vauxhall’s combined sales in Europe (EU 27 plus EFTA) were 1,006,832 – a number at least in the general neighborhood of 1.2 million. Chevrolet’s sales on the other hand were only 178,730 – a little bit more than a third of what was allegedly sold in Europe. The Freep most likely fell victim to numbers supplied by GM. American companies sometimes have a strange concept of “Europe.”

Trying to introduce Chevrolet to Western Europe would be an exercise in futility. Even Opel/Vauxhall has a hard time there, hanging on to a market share of 7.4 percent – according to ACEA. The bowtie brand has a market share of 1.2 percent – in the same league a BMW’s Mini.

Wayne Brannon, president of Chevrolet Europe told the Freep that Chevrolet wants to exploit its “American” appeal in Europe. Well, good luck with that. Ford wisely stays away from any automotive flag waving. Since Ford is better established in Europe, it seems more European to buyers, Brannon said, leaving the “American” branding open to Chevy. It’s a trap, Mr. Brannon.

At the same time, GM’s European incarnation in Europe, Opel, wants to enter territory where GM is strong: China. “GM China is considering reintroducing its Opel brand to the Chinese market, with Opel executives supplying GM with documents detailing Chinese growth plans,” reports Gasgoo, citing a report in Beijing Times. According to the story, “imported Opel cars would rely on their distinct European characteristics.” Good luck with that also. Many of the Made in China Buicks and Chevys are engineered by Opel. In any case, Opel’s plans for China don’t sound overly ambitious. Says Gasgoo:

“Opel currently has one dealership open in Beijing, selling the Antara SUV, Astra compact and Zafira minivan. The company currently has no plans to expand its dealer network.”

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13 Comments on “Chevy To Europe, Opel To China...”

  • avatar

    “Trying to introduce Chevrolet to Western Europe would be an exercise in futility”

    Why? If you have a new business goal, seems to me you would try to market yourself differently to accomplish that goal as opposed to doing the same thing you have been doing and hoping for different results.

  • avatar

    “Trying to introduce Chevrolet to Western Europe would be an exercise in futility.”
    Who knows, maybe Europeans are ready to start purchasing Silverados in mass. lol

  • avatar

    The problem is that Chevrolet will be marketing itself as “American” but selling cheap Daewoos that are all made in Korea.
    Out of the 178k sales, I think only about 1500 of them are American models sourced from the US or Canada (Corvette, SUV’s, Camaro, etc).  All of the rest are Aveos, Optras, Epicas, etc. designed/engineered/built in Korea and with absolutely zero “American” car characteristics save for a bowtie logo.

    • 0 avatar

      NN you are not 100% correct. A good chunk of European Chevy sales relate to a vehicle produced in Poland (Aveo) plus a significant volume of Cruzes, and Orlando from now onwards, so the Daewoo (Korean) gen is becoming very much diluted in current line-up

    • 0 avatar

      How is that really any diff. from what Ford and GM are doing in Europe (w/ Ford Europe and Opel/Vauxhall), much less China?  The no. of made in the USA vehicles sold there are marginal.

      Btw, a rebadged version of the LaCrosse is sold in Korea as the GM Daewoo Alpheon, but w/ the Daewoo moniker being phased out, it remains to be seen where the Alpheon ends up.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem isn’t American but build in Korea. The problem is American which for cars is the same as British is for wine.

  • avatar

    TTAC is mostly right. US brands generally wither and die in Europe. But this is for 2 reasons:

    1.) Luxury US (and Japanese) brands are doomed to failure because Europeans only seem to believe that Europeans can make a luxury car.

    2.) When brands like Chrysler have come to Europe they generally fail because the either attempt to build a ‘European car’ but do it badly (e.g. Chrysler Neon) or they try to sell us an American car which has no appeal to Europeans.

    Chevrolet are doing OK largely because they are Daewoo’s….

  • avatar

    It won’t work out for GM. Generally speaking, American cars have zero appeal here. They lost all of that I would say in the early 70s. Sure, you see the occassional grey import F150 or Dodge pick-up, but these are usually driven by the mullet crowd. Even a Corvette looks totally out of place here, if you drive one people will definitely assume you are a pimp (and not in the 50 cent kind of way) or at least someone with similar taste.

    In a desperate attempt to do something (I don’t know what they had in mind exactly, but still) about their brand image, Chevrolet even tried to sell the Corvette as a seperate brand rather than as a Chevy. Apart from those existing but not insurmountable image problems though, the biggest problem is Chevy hasn’t built a competitive compact or subcompact car in decades that could compete in the hugely competitive market space of Twingos, Puntos, Polos, Jazzes and Yarrii or the Golfs, Corollas and yes, even Alfa Romeo 147s (etc etc etc) Both the European as well as the Japanese offerings in these most important segments in Europe comprehensively beat the snot out of anything Daevrolet has had to offer in years.

    So there’s a huge mountain to climb and if they’d make it, they’ll likely end up at the same place where they are now with Opel, at the cost of Opel and all the investments necessary for Chevy to take Opel’s place. An excersize in futility indeed.

  • avatar

    So, if GM Europe’s region, makes since for GM, should then report numbers based off maps that ACEA uses?  Honestly, this doesn’t mean much to me.  TTAC was saying earlier how Bringing Chevy to Europe was a bad idea because there was too much overlap with Opel, when in fact, Chevy was primarily going to Eastern Europe and not Western Europe.  I think Chevy in Eastern Europe, in ACEA or non ACEA European countries is a good idea.
    Now, Opel to China… I am not so sure about.  With the products that GM has for Opel and many of them becoming Buicks, the strategy isn’t clear to me on what they are trying to do there.

  • avatar

    The Chevrolet brand sells tiny Korean Daewoos in Western Europe. How you can make them have an “American” image beats me, because the Chevrolets on sale in Western Europe are smaller than anything on the roads in the US. On top of that, when I rented one in England once, it said “Made in Korea” everywhere. To get an idea, see

  • avatar

    This makes me miss the old days with RF running the place, and his talk about GM running around like a headless chicken. Because that’s exactly what they are doing right now, they have no *beep*ing clue.

    Sure, push Chevrolet as an “American” brand. Though, know your demographic if you do. For Europeans, those in pursuit for American iron are those that in the states live in trailer parks, feature a mullet, and runs around in a Camaro. American cars sells reasonably well as novelty cars for that demographic. You can see a lot of Chrysler 300, Mustangs, Hummers, Tahoes around. But to push for the american connotation of the brand while selling repackaged korean econoboxes? The hell they won’t… Second, the reason the Chinese buys American brands are because they are American. The exact opposite of the iron curtain crap. Doesn’t matter that they are Opels underneath, as long as the label says Buick. But to push Opel as a European brand? The hell they won’t…

  • avatar

    Trying to grow the Chevy brand in Europe likely isn’t going to be successful; GM should just save the $$ on having a separate dealer network and advertising and just sell the Chevy models under the Opel moniker.

    But at the very least, GM should get rid of the redundancy that is Vauxhall and Opel.

    Opel in China doesn’t seem like a good bet either, but who knows, maybe the Chinese will be enthralled by another “European” brand?

    And it’s not like the other automakers aren’t adding additional brands to the Chinese market, namely new brands w/ Chinese names.

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