GM Europe Becomes Opel Group, Ampera EV May Go As Budget Brand Comes Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Jul, 23 2014 | 0 Comments

General Motors has renamed and restructured its GM Europe business, announcing the new Opel Group this week.

The new operation will oversee the General’s operations in Europe, managing the Opel, Vauxhall and, in Russia, GM brands.

GM says the restructure will allow Opel to “strengthen its financial base” as it works to grow beyond its close call with bankruptcy and transform into a brand with a more premium image.

Opel Group boss Karl-Thomas Neumann said today that the reorganisation forms a key factor in the company’s plan to grow GM’s European market share from 5.6 percent today to eight percent by 2022.

“Today, we are more than just Opel/Vauxhall,” he said.

“With the Opel Group, we align our organisational and legal entity structure in Europe with the business operations. We streamline our decision making processes and increase our efficiency.”

He added that the restructure is evidence of Opel’s growing esteem within the GM company - and no doubt a welcome turnaround, with the American carmaker earlier considering a partial sale of the Opel/Vauxhall operation.

The company expects to return to profit by 2016, with 27 new models and variants and 17 new engines to be launched by 2018.


Opel Ampera EV To Go: Report

One model that may not make the cut is the slow-selling Opel version of the Chevrolet Volt EV, the Ampera. Reports in the past week suggest the restructure will see the Ampera cancelled in the coming year.

Australia may continue to get the Volt in its Holden-badged Chevrolet form, but for now, the company isn’t commenting on its future plans.

Holden has sold 35 Volts year-to-date (June figures), compared to 67 for the same period in 2013.

That slowdown is reflected in June sales, with just five sales against 14 for June last year.

It remains to be seen if the Volt will continue, but Australia can at least look forward to the return of key Opel models in 2015, including the Insignia sedan and Astra and Corsa hatches.


Dacia-fighting Budget Models Coming?

The Opel Group may also be planning to launch a new range of budget-focused models under a new brand that would take on Renault's Dacia line.

Speaking with The Financial Times, Neumann said that with Chevrolet now gone from Europe, there is room for a brand that would focus on affordability as Opel goes more upmarket.

“Dacia is a great thing. GM is definitely not Dacia, but this whole budget and entry-level market segment is very interesting. They can be admired. We are definitely looking at the segment,” Neumann said.

“We had Chevrolet, which looked like a budget brand, but it was not. We think there is some possibility for Opel to come up with some entry-level product, specifically now Chevrolet is out of the market."

MORE: Opel Models Returning With Holden Badge
MORE: Opel Aiming For Number 2 In Europe

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