PSA Wants GM's Chevy Bolt Technology; GM Throws Up Conditions
Apparently, the tidy sale of General Motors’ European division to French automaker PSA Group isn’t so clean-cut after all.
According to German publication Der Spiegel, PSA is looking to secure more than just the Opel and Vauxhall brands. It also wants a key bit of gear — one that would make the new European alliance market leaders in electric vehicle technology.
GM isn’t willing to let it go without a host of conditions.
Der Spiegel reports that PSA is particularly interested in the Opel Amera-e, the European version of the Chevrolet Bolt. The vehicles’ patents are a key stumbling block in negotiations between GM and PSA.
The American automaker is quite proud of its affordable, long-range EV. Naturally, it’s not willing to let Opel’s potential buyer have the technology out of the goodness of its heart. GM has reportedly said it will license the patents for certain models, including the Ampera-e, only if PSA keeps the vehicles out of North America, Russia and China.
Because PSA’s long-range plans may include a return to the North American market, the clause means that any vehicle sent stateside would have to contain absolutely no GM intellectual property. PSA’s CEO, Carlos Tavares, has said that Opel may be sold outside of Europe in the future. As well, PSA is weighing whether its French brands — Citroën, Peugeot, and especially DS — could appear in the U.S.
Another hitch in the negotiations involves the GM division’s threadbare pension fund. Bloomberg reports that the retirement plan is underfunded to the tune of $9 billion. According to sources close to the negotiations, PSA would love for GM to shoulder a sizable part of that financial burden. GM, which hopes to rid itself of an unprofitable division through this sale, doesn’t seem interested in picking up that tab.
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"Bolt move, Barra"... But this is destined to go wrong. At a certain point it will be more beneficial for PSA to see Opel slowly wither away and work together with another brand (Tesla?) on the EV subject.
The last time PSA gobbled up a manufacturer from a US manufacturer was the late 70s with Chrysler Europe. They couldn't use the Chrysler name, so they dug up an old Talbot name. The old fashioned RWD Sunbeam subcompact was replaced with a Peugeot based Samba, the Horizon (as sold in the US as a Plymouth) soldiered on for a while, as did the Alpine/Solara midsize sedan and hatch. The Tagora was to be based on a large Chrysler platform, ended up based on a Peugeot platform which left it with a strangely narrow track between the wheels on either side. The brand was axed soon after, surviving til the 90s only on commercial vehicles (a rebadged Fiat Ducato aka Ram Promaster - as we know Fiat later owned Chrysler). The Horizon replacement became the 309 hatchback, which started the moderately successful 306->308 lineage. The Citroen AX based Samba replacement never saw the light of day, the Alpine/Solara were axed to make way for the 405 and the unsuccessful Tagora was quietly dropped. PSA tried to tie up with Mitsubishi - whom they had an SUV relationship with - recently for an EV, licencing the i-Miev. However it wasn't overly successful. They may look to Vauxhall-Opel for the 508 replacement based on the new Insignia, midsize sedan sales are falling - it makes sense for a lot of platform sharing in the shrinking market. This model could also be key to negotiations - it is due to be the next Holden Commodore and potentially the Buick Regal.