Akerson: Chevys For Rsselsheim, Bad News For Detroit

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
akerson chevys for rsselsheim bad news for detroit

Good news for Opel workers: They could all get Chevys, and GM CEO Dan Akerson won’t sell them down the river, to China, to Korea, or god forbid to Wolfsburg. “We would never give Opel away. Opel contributes to our global size and is not for sale, end of discussion,” Akerson told Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland. An unambiguous statement. Opel workers would have loved to hear it a bit earlier. But better late than Hyundai.

Akerson had more news. Some good. Some, well, you decide …

The good news is that “GM is looking into producing Chevrolets in Europe.” The few Chevrolets that currently change hands in the EU – in June, the number was 17,114, says ACEA – are made in Russia or South Korea. These numbers are scheduled to grow a lot, and GM doesn’t want to ship cars from Korea to Europe if it has plants there that could use some work.

The bad news is that Akerson thinks the U.S. economy could nosedive. Nosedive even more? “There is the danger of a new recession, and I see this with concern,” Akerson told the paper. Result? Americans will buy fewer cars than hoped and projected. GM thought the year would end at 13 to 13.5 million cars sold in the U.S. Very few still believe this, and Akerson is beginning to have doubts himself: “Currently, we maintain the forecast, but we think it will be the lower range of our prognosis.”

The Opel unions are unfazed by the danger of their mothership hitting rough seas. They are happy about Chevbrolet coming to Europe: “We have promoted this for quite a while,” said über-shop-steward Klaus Franz to Automobilwoche [sub]. “This would fill the capacities of some sites here.” There is no badge-nationalism in the union camp. Chevrolet, Opel, whatever fills the line.

Background: GM wants a bigger European footprint for Chevrolet in Europe. Instead of in Korea, the cars shall be made in Europe. However, as part of the restructuring plan, there is a contract that precludes new European plants before 2014. That’s why the cars will have to be made at Opel or Vauxhall if the great Chevroletization of Europe is to become reality.

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  • Pch101 Pch101 on Aug 12, 2011
    The good news is that “GM is looking into producing Chevrolets in Europe.” That sounds like bad news for Opel management. Whatever autonomy they may have had would appear to be in the crosshairs of the leadership in Detroit.

    • See 2 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Aug 13, 2011
      @MikeAR I doubt that this is anywhere near the end of Opel engineering. Opel does the majority of the FWD programs. Traditionally, GM Europe had been fair autonomous. It was largely a corporate backwater that didn't get that much attention from the mothership. Now, GM has been moving more work to Daewoo, and if you believe their recent presentation that was linked elsewhere here, then GM's goal now appears to be to turn GM into an efficient international company with global brands. That sounds good, but that also means some sort of centralized management that oversees all markets. Combine that with a strategy to cut costs by moving more operations to emerging markets, and that spells problems for Opel. The trend in Europe has been to drop trade barriers that had been traditionally used to protect their domestic car markets, so in the future, there should be less need for an auto producer to be housed there if the consumer will accept the vehicles. If GM can get Europeans to embrace Chevrolets, that can't be good for Opel.

  • Msquare Msquare on Aug 12, 2011

    Still a little lost as to how the GM pecking order in Europe supposed to work. You can still make some sense of Cadillac-Buick-Chevy here, and even more if it's done right. Chevrolet, I guess is supposed to compete in the cut-price class in Europe that used to be the haven of Hyundai and Kia, plus some Malaysian and Eastern European makes. But is there really that much of a gap between Opel/Vauxhall and Chevrolet? I guess they're trying to follow the VW/Skoda/SEAT model, but how well is that working?

  • Morley Wasn't that the war where the Brits came down from Canada and burned the White House to the ground?
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