No Opel Junior Coming To America. Opel Tech Chief Blames American Non-Tariff Barriers

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
no opel junior coming to america opel tech chief blames american non tariff barriers

It hasn’t been much of a secret that Opel is working on a small car, called the Junior, to take on BMW’s Mini, or Fiat’s 500. As a matter of fact, Opel had been working on the Junior since 1982. Way back when, the interior of the Junior had been designed by a new arrival in Rüsselsheim, a freshly graduated Chris Bangle. People who expected to see a Junior in Geneva were disappointed. Instead,”General Motors will launch its new small car, the Junior, at the Paris show next autumn,” just-auto was told in Geneva.

The bigger news: The Junior “will be strictly for Europe and unable to challenge the global success of the Mini, or take on the Fiat 500 in America, engineering head Rita Forst admitted” to just-auto.

The interesting part is the alleged why.

Rita Forst laid it out to just-auto:

“The Junior is a very specific car for the European market and is so important for Vauxhall and Opel. There are a lot of markets where the Junior meets the regulations, but only in Europe. We decided not to go for ‘federalization’ because it would have increased the development time by one-and-half years..”

Veery interesting. Through Opel’s engineering head, GM admits that a car that meets all regulations of Europe would add one-and-half years to its development time if the car is supposed to be up to U.S. specs. This from the same company that keeps (through its mouthpiece, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers) pounding the table to protest against non-tariff barriers that act as a handy excuse for the absolutely atrocious sales of American autos in Japan.

QED: One of the world’s most formidable non-tariff barrier is around the U.S. (and by extension Canada.) To get past it, even a GM would have to spend inordinate amounts of time and money. If Rita Forst isn’t just blowing smoke, that is.

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  • Dtremit Dtremit on Mar 07, 2012

    If Opel had designed the car from the start with federalization in mind, it could have been federalized in a lot less than 18 months. This isn't evidence of trade barriers, but rather Opel's flawed development process -- and honestly, an admission that the thing probably wouldn't sell well enough in the US to justify the cost. Besides, it's not like you can take a car meeting US standards and sell it in Europe without modifications.

  • Obruni Obruni on Mar 08, 2012

    "GM does't want to sell city cars to Americans" "The Spark is a subcompact. The Agila is a city car" oh, I love TTAC commenter ignorance. The Agila is BIGGER than the Spark. The Agila is 4 inches longer, a foot wider, and over 220 pounds heavier than the Spark when comparing euro-spec trims.

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