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PSA Group details its plans for Opel and Vauxhall

Next phase: Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller announced the company’s PACE! Strategic plan out to 2024 in Europe overnight.

All Opel models to share PSA platforms by 2024, company eyes new export markets

Opel logo10 Nov 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

OPEL has laid out its plans to 2024 under new owner, PSA Group, with the German car-maker confirming that it will speed up the changeover from General Motors to PSA platforms and powertrains, as well as increase its reach into new export markets.

In an announcement made in Europe overnight, Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller confirmed that the company would switch over to “efficient and flexible” PSA Group platforms faster than originally expected, with all Opel and Vauxhall passenger cars to be underpinned by PSA Group architecture by 2024.

This means that Holden’s soon-to-launch ZB Commodore, which is based on the new Opel Insignia and built at its Russelsheim factory, will have a life cycle of no more than six years, less than any previous Australian-built Commodore model.

It is unclear what Holden will do beyond 2024 in the medium to large passenger car segment. It could turn to its GM parent company to replace the Commodore, possibly with a Chevrolet, Buick or other GM-sourced model.

Holden director of communications Sean Poppitt told GoAuto at the pre-production drive of the new Commodore in late August that the company was committed to the current generation of Opel-sourced cars, which also includes the Astra hatch and wagon.

“Every car company is looking at what comes in that next generation, and what we have absolutely said, and Opel and PSA have been quoted as saying, we will provide Holden with Opel-drive cars for as long as they want,” he said at the time.

“It also depends on where the market goes, because we are literally talking seven, eight, nine years ahead. So those things are being looked at, those decisions are being made as every car company is doing at the moment.”

Holden product communications manager Mark Flintoft was coy on the car-maker’s plans beyond the ZB Commodore, and said it was focused on its new model roll out.

“We do not discuss future products, but we continue to develop our future product plans beyond the current generation of vehicles,” he said.

“Holden is committed to bringing the best vehicles to Australia and New Zealand with GM’s support. We are excited about the upcoming launch of the next generation Commodore. Together with our portfolio of SUVs, crossovers and small cars, the new Commodore is part of the strongest and most comprehensive portfolio in Holden’s history.”

The first PSA-based Opel models will be the Combo small delivery van in 2018, which will likely share its underpinnings with the next-gen Citroen Berlingo/Peugeot Partner twins, followed by the Opel Corsa in 2019 that will be shared with the next Peugeot 208.

This will be followed by one major launch a year with the company expected to launch nine new models by 2020.

Opel will cut the number of platforms it uses from nine to two by 2024, with PSA rolling out its EMP2 and CMP platforms to underpin all new Opel and Vauxhall models in the German and British brands’ various production facilities.

An EMP2-based SUV is set to be built at the Eisenach plant for launch in 2019, while an EMP2-based D-segment model is also planned to be produced at Russelsheim. It is unclear if the D-segment model is a passenger car or an SUV.

Mr Lohscheller said the company would also reduce the number of powertrain families from 10 to four.

“Aligning architecture and powertrain families will substantially reduce development and production complexity, thus allowing scale effects and synergies, contributing to overall profitability,” he said.

All new Opel and Vauxhall models will be engineered at Russelsheim which will become a ‘global competence centre’ for PSA Group.

The centre will focus on a number of areas, including fuel-cell development, automated driving technologies and driver assistance systems, with Opel saying in its statement that it will “further guarantee German engineering quality and affordable innovations”.

PSA Group has plans for Opel/Vauxhall to become a European CO2 leader by electrifying all European model lines by 2024, including pure battery electric or plug-in hybrid variants sold alongside models with regular internal combustion engines.

By 2020 Opel will have four electrified model lines available, including a full EV version of the next-gen Corsa hatch and a plug-in hybrid variant of the Grandland X SUV, which is already built on PSA’s EMP2 platform and a twin under the skin of the Peugeot 3008.

Opel says it will expand into more than 20 new export markets by 2022, and following this the company will “explore global midterm overseas profitable export opportunities”.

It is unclear if Australia is on the list of countries Opel plans to export to.

Under its GM ownership Opel exported cars to Australia for one year in 2012 before pulling the pin, citing unfavourable market conditions and slow sales as reasons for its exit.

PSA Group’s Australian distributor, Inchcape Australasia, has ruled out any plans to add Opel to its local stable in a statement to GoAuto.

“We’ve had no discussions with PSA on this subject,” the importer’s chief executive Nick Senior said. “As we have previously stated, our immediate focus is the continued development of the Peugeot and Citroen brands.”

Opel will also increase its offerings in the light-commercial vehicle segment in the coming years, as well as expanding the number of markets it offers LCVs, with plans to boost its commercial sales by 25 per cent by 2020 compared with its 2017 sales.

Currently Opel and Vauxhall sells the Vivaro mid-size van that shares its underpinnings with French car-maker Renault’s Trafic, while the large Movano is a rebadged version of the Master.

Mr Lohscheller said the new strategic plan (dubbed PACE!) will unleash the company’s full potential and transform it into a profitable global brand.

“This plan is paramount for the company, to protect our employees against headwinds and turn Opel/Vauxhall into a sustainable, profitable, electrified, and global company,” he said. “Our future will be secured and we will contribute with German excellence to the Groupe PSA development. The implementation has already started with all teams eager to achieve the objectives.”

The company says its strategic plan was created to ensure that it maintains all of its current manufacturing plants and to avoids forced redundancies in Europe.

“The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes,” the statement says.

The plan will ensure annual synergies of €1.1 billion ($A1.7b) by 2020 and €1.7 billion ($A2.6b) by 2026, as well as contributing to a lower financial break-even point for Opel/Vauxhall of 800,000 vehicles, which the company says will create a profitable business model regardless of market conditions.

Further savings will come from efficiencies relating to marketing expenses which will improve by more than 10 per cent, and it will reduce the costs by €700 (A$1060) per car.

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