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TMR Team | Jul, 08 2013 | 4 Comments

GM has reaffirmed plans to push its European brand Opel further up-market, positioning the range between the global Chevrolet family and the prestige Cadillac marque.

Speaking with press this week, new Chevrolet global boss and former Holden chief Alan Batey said the company will avoid an image "overlap" by positioning Opel as a premium brand.

"As we do that, that gives us the opportunity to move Opel and Vauxhall up a little bit, which creates potentially a value opportunity [for the Chevrolet brand]," Batey said in a teleconference.

Opel won't go all the way to the 'prestige' level however, with the Cadillac brand - GM's rival for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus buyers - already operates in Europe.

This is not the first time that GM has made efforts to move Opel upmarket. In 2010, Nick Riley, Opel's CEO at that time, had tried to push Opel into the premium segment.

Not long after, Riley's successor Karl-Friedrich Stracke said the brand had adjusted its range and pricing too quickly, losing budget-focused buyers before convincing the market of its premium appeal.

“We need to regain our traditional customer base,” Stracke said in 2012. “We moved Opel up too quickly. Going forward there will be adjustments to make our cars more affordable.”

Above: the retro-styled Adam city car, not available in Australia.
Above: the retro-styled Adam city car, not available in Australia.

But now, interim Opel boss Steve Girsky says that GM could model the Chevrolet and Opel relationship on the Volkswagen and Skoda pair.

"Think of a Volkswagen-Skoda kind of thing. (Opel) will be higher-priced, more features and (Chevy) will be lower-priced," Girsky told reports at March's Geneva Motor Show.

It will mean that future Chevrolet models will maintain a budget-focused direction for western markets - including local models like the Holden Malibu, Barina and Captiva - while Opel will offer more premium styling, trims and technologies.

Opel's Australian arm, which launched here last year, has so far stayed true to the position driven by Stracke: focusing on its German origins and 150 year heritage, without declaring itself a premium brand.

Come the next generation of Opel models, that could change. Perhaps the rumour Monza RWD coupe will lead the way.

For now, Australian buyers can look forward to the upcoming Mokka compact SUV and, in 2014, the Cascada convertible.

Filed under Opel News report
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