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Opel outlines new growth plans

On course: The current Corsa light car (left) is built on a shared GM-Fiat platform, but the company says the next-gen version will feature GM underpinnings.

GM's European brand says it will return to profit on the back of 27 new models

5 Jun 2014

OPEL has re-jigged its ambitious European-market growth plans saying it hopes to return to profit mid-decade while launching 27 new models and 17 engines by 2018.

The General Motors-owned car-maker has updated its Drive!2022 strategy to include five objectives that include boosting the European market share of Opel and its UK equivalent Vauxhall, from its current 5.8 per cent to eight per cent by 2022.

By the company's own estimations, this will make Opel and Vauxhall combined the number two car-maker for passenger cars in Europe behind German giant Volkswagen. The plan involves an increased share in its home market, Germany, from 7.2 to 10 per cent, also by 2022.

In the release, Opel said it plans to return to profit by the middle of this decade, a feat it has not achieved in at least 10 years, and has targeted a profit margin of five per cent by 2022.

As a part of its focus on three priorities – “models, brands and an improved market penetration” – Opel has increased its projected model roll out to 27 new models and 17 engines between 2014 and 2018.

This is an increase from the company's original 10-year Drive!22 plan revealed in 2012 that promised 23 new or facelifted models and 13 new engines by 2016.

While the statement from the company did not detail future model plans, industry journal Automotive News reports that Opel will focus on producing smaller cars using components from its GM parent company.

The publication quoted Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann as saying that the next-generation Corsa, due in Europe later this year, “will have a General Motors platform”.

The current-generation Corsa, which went on sale in Europe in 2006, is based on a version of the SCCS platform that was co-developed by GM and Italian car-maker Fiat and underpins a number of models from both stables, including the Fiat Punto, Alfa Romeo MiTo and Opel Adam.

Other nameplates believed to be included in the 27 new models include the Renault Trafic-based Vivaro light-commercial van and the next-generation Astra range, which is due next year.

The updated plan calls on Opel to boost its image as an “emotional, approachable and German” brand through the use of technological innovations, value for money and German engineering skills. One of the first moves to improve in-car tech is to promote technological advances is to introduce the OnStar in-built wi-fi hot-spot tech into vehicles from 2015 on.

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said a lot of work had gone into the strategic plan, which has the support of General Motors.

“In the past months, Opel’s management team has worked hard on advancing the DRIVE!2022 initiative,” he said. “The catalogue of strategic targets presented here today is the result of our efforts.

“We have already made the preparations for implementing the plan step by step.

We have the full backing of our parent company General Motors.” Early last year Opel announced it received a cash injection of €4 billion ($A5b) between 2013 and 2016 from GM before it pledged the struggling European operation a further €230 million ($A290m) just two weeks later.

Opel confirmed in March this year that it would pull out of the Chinese market after failing to make an impact there, with just 4365 sales from 22 dealerships in 2013 compared with top-selling GM brand Buick which shifted 810,000 units in the same period.

After less than 12 months of sales, Opel withdrew from the Australian market in August last year after conceding that the market conditions were too competitive for it to be profitable long-term.

Since then, GM's Australian brand Holden confirmed that it will introduce re-badged Opels to its passenger car line-up, with OPC performance variants of the Astra hatch and Insignia sedan returning as well as the three-door Astra GTC and the Cascada convertible in the first half of next year.

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