The ship called Opel has been heaving through a storm, non-stop, for more than a decade. The aborted sale in 2009 when General Motors decided it could do better than potential buyers only led to estimates of up to $20 billion in costs to GM, more years of turnaround plans, retreat from global markets and churn at the CEO position. It was thought that this year, with Karl-Thoman Neumann at the helm, the promise of a $5.2 billion investment, the withdrawal of the Chevrolet brand from Europe and a bit of breathing room, it could finally settle into a calmer rhythm. According to a report in Reuters, recent moves at GM have Opel execs worried that that might not be the case.

Opel has been asking to make more Euro-centric offerings in order to compete with rivals. But the appointment of Mary Barra to the top slot at GM and her past experience at harmonizing product development, as well as former boss Stephen Girksy's departure as GM vice chairman, has insiders worried that they'll be pushed even more to make do with global product. On top of that, their best chance of getting specialized goods took a hit when GM began to untie its bond with PSA/Peugeot-Citroën that had promised a new compact-car platform. The Corsa, a model that Opel needs to do well but can't because it's seven years old, was hit hardest by that news.

These facts mean that the multibillion-dollar investment won this year to develop 23 models and 13 engines over the next two years will need to go further. GM told Reuters "there [is] no change in its stance on Opel," but, as an analyst said, "Rebuilding a weak brand takes years of delivering outstanding product." The question is whether GM's stance - and its commitment to Euro-focused product - will stay consistent long enough to give Neumann and Opel a real shot.


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  • 18 Comments
      The Wasp
      • 11 Months Ago
      Any Opel executive pulling for non-global, Euro-centric vehicles needs to be shown the door. GM is a global company. It needs to act like one. Holden is finally finding that out the hard way.
        Seal Rchin
        • 11 Months Ago
        @The Wasp
        But the downside is if you have a bad car you will have that one car in all the markets. Plus markets do have different tastes. Look at US Focus from few years ago and Euro Focus, what if that US Focus was the global Focus, someone at Ford thought it was a good car to let it be produced so it could have been the Global Focus. Also there are real taste differences in different markets. Golf is super popular in Europe, i live in NYC where Golf should sell well and i can tell you that i have seen it only a handful of times, no one really buys it in USA.
        Daniel D
        • 11 Months Ago
        @The Wasp
        Everything Holden sells is on a global platform - including the Commodore. GM have some interesting lessons to learn about Holden and they aren't the ones you are assuming.
      Floridian
      • 11 Months Ago
      Has Opel been asking for more Eurocentric models? As if they aren't Eurocentric enough already. GM should still keep different cars in different parts of the world. Tastes differ in different parts of the world. For example, what are they gonna do in Europe with an Impala? Or a Silverado? On a side note I might add that GM needs to bring the Cascada to the US under the Buick name. Also, why the hell does England get the Vauxhall Maloo VXR Ute (Holden Maloo HSV Ute)?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What up with that GM???? If anyone deserves a pick up truck, it's your own home country, the US!! Does GM really think they will sell more of that in the UK instead of the US? Just bring it over and call it the El Camino SS, and rename the Chevy SS sedan to Chevelle SS. Well, that's my rant of the day!
      Jan William Bayus
      • 11 Months Ago
      GM has made a few mistakes (I crack me up) in the past and the could be another. They could have combined Saturn and Saab for a niche market Euro car to compete with Audi. They missed that one. They had FIAT and the nice diesel and could have down the same, another lost opportunity. They could try to use the Opel name to bring in the Euro auto to the market now. The Adam may not sell as much as they wish, but the Astra's and the like could have been a test for the brand. The Buickization of the cars has not been all too successful. Package the Holden cars in the mix and GM would have a whole new division with unique offerings and a ready made service operation. I hope the new CEO has more brains than the past six.
        Sir Duke
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Jan William Bayus
        FIAT would have been just another floundering European brand hanging around GM neck. Like PEWgeot, FIAT proper is also threading water. VW upped and kicked them in balls, (by undercutting every european car company's prices) Sergio and Winterkorn are about come to blows behind the school-house. If it weren't for model sharing with Vauxhall and Buick, you really couldn't make a business case for keeping Opel alive, not very different from Holden. Now that GM (north america) has their own RWD platforms, Holden is done. Saab (and Volvo) had their best days in the 80s. Saab will continue to sputter along for the next decade or so. GM needed fewer brands, not more.
      dearest rat
      • 11 Months Ago
      Does anyone care about Opel besides the factory workers who produce them? It seems that GM only keeps them afloat to pilfer models for the Buick lineup.
      Avinash Machado
      • 11 Months Ago
      I hope they won't sell off Opel to the Chinese or somebody.
      Wetstuff
      • 11 Months Ago
      Fen, Opel only has 'history' .. and not much 'recent history'. The music is over - stop dancing already. Jim
      Vassilis Alex
      • 11 Months Ago
      Opel is a great company with some very good cars. So good, GM is rebadging them for the US. Now, if GM follows VAG's strategy with a common platform, they could save a lot of money, make better cars and therefore make Opel even better.
      Gugue
      • 11 Months Ago
      Opel managers are too conservative where they never should be, in the marketing and product development. It´s design style is not the problem. And if Opel take advantage of a Silverado, or a Trailblazer, of a Camaro... and if they take advantage of offering cheaper models to compete with Sandero and Logan, like Prisma and Onix... GM have a big range of models that Opel could offer in Europe instead of being horrified just to think about get out the VW´s shadow... Cheers to Vauxhall, which stopped to see UK as a Harry Potter´s or Lord of the Ring´s land and put some interesting Holdens there to see what happens.
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