Earlier this year PSA purchased Opel from General Motors. We discussed how long it would take for Opel´s identity to fade away. Sooner than even I expected.
“Peter Fintl is the director of technology and innovation at the German subsidiary of the French development services provider Altran, which works closely with PSA. He has a precise understanding of PSA’s technology strategy.
“PSA doesn’t need Opel’s conventional technology,” Fintl said. “Since both manufacturers are active in the same class, it is likely that the Opel platforms will be gradually decommissioned and PSA technologies introduced.” (Automotive News) This is excellent timing: “Opel has just invested 210 million euros in a new development and test center for engines and transmissions in Ruesselsheim. The center, which went into operation last October, employs 800 engineers.”
As it stands, it seems like the remains of Opel’s identity which has really become more distinct in the last ten years, should be pretty much extinguished in the course of about five years. It might be pointed out that Citroens don’t look like Peugeots so why can’t Opels look distinct too? Are they? I was at PSA showroom recently and what struck me was that there was nothing fundamental to the cars that would make me want any of them. It was like standing in a white goods showroom.
As a form of faint praise I did note the C4 has quite distinctive seating – quite simple and square. And that’s it. As I have said, Opels are different from PSA cars because someone else created them. With shared architecture and engines, the Opel marque will allow PSA to offer three ranges of not very different cars. It shows, for me, that while styling can help sell a car, you can’t pretend it is enough.
Among my collection of old car magazines, I have a Giant Test of the 1978 Opel Senator 3.0, the Mercedes 280SE and BMW 730. Car may have been stretching the point a little, but it remained that the Senator acquitted itself rather well against the far pricier BMW and Mercedes. It was remember, a Rekord with a longer nose and tail. Car called the Opel’s performance “formidable” and said the car remained stable up to its top speed. “Seated at ease in a car that performs and handles as well this adds up to driver appeal of the sort that rarely encountered in a big saloon.”
When was the last time anyone tried to match an Opel against a 5 or an A6? Or an Astra against a low end 3-series? So, here we are a long time later, with Opel never quite able to shake of their image problems and subsumed into a corporation with a well documented history of treating its adopted children like an anaconda treats a goat. Citroen, Talbot, Chrysler…
“Do the much-respected Mercedes-Benz 280 SE and BMW 730 have anything to fear from the svelte new Opel Senator 3.0? You bet they do”. That was November 1978.