Meet the new Opel, same as the old Opel but different. General Motors has decided to rid itself of its European operations, but the man at the helm of Opel will remain the same and he has some ideas about what the future will look like.
Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport last week the brand will continue to design and develop its own cars. He has been the CEO of Opel since 2013 and will continue in that position. From this point forward, Opel products will be based on chassis supplied by PSA Group, which is buying Opel from GM. Making the transition to new platforms will take several years, Neumann says.
While Opel was still under GM’s wing, it was considering changing over to a lineup featuring only cars with plugs. That’s not surprising. The European Union has carbon emissions rules in place that will be difficult if not impossible to meet using only internal combustion engines.
That may have been part of GM’s reasoning when it decided to sell off Opel. Apparently, it just didn’t want to play the EU’s game. Much easier to concentrate on building high-profit, gasoline-powered Suburbans and Silverados.
Despite its Volt and Bolt offerings, GM remains a company that is deeply committed to the four stroke philosophy that has sustained the automotive business for over 100 years. It is neatly summarized by the T-shirts Harley Davidson riders like to wear — Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow. Perhaps that will be the epitaph on GM’s grave stone.
When the German Bundesrat voted last fall to ban internal combustion engines by 2030, GM apparently decided it was time to pull up stakes and head for the hills.
There are reports that Opel has 7 new or updated models in the works, including an all-new SUV that will become the new face of the brand. And why not? Europeans are almost as crazy for SUVs as Americans are (and most of the rest of the world).
There might be light at the end of the tunnel for Opel yet. It seems a version of the Ampera-e — Opel’s version of the Chevy Bolt — is still a possibility. Being unshackled from GM’s corporate culture may turn out to be a good thing in the end. GM destroyed Saab by forcing it to sell rebadged Subarus and Trail Blazers. Subaru thrived when it was cut loose by The General.
Perhaps the same will happen at Opel. Americans are largely unfamiliar with Peugeots and Citroens, but the two companies make some very tasty automobiles. There’s even a possibility that Opel may lead a re-entry into the American market after a long absence. Who knows? Maybe one day PSA may buy GM the next time it flirts with bankruptcy?
Source: Motor Trend