According to Automotive News Europe, Opel will reduce the number of models it sells. You won’t be surprised, will you?
Additionally, purchasing activities will be shared alongside PSA platforms. The Ruesselsheim design and engineering centre will be charged with electrification of PSA vehicles and, finally, Opel will expand into territories that were previously taboo under GM.
The first point can be taken to mean more vehicles like the Crossland which already uses a shared platform with PSA. The bundled purchasing operation probably translates into more parts commonality among which will be engines or eventually electric power trains. Engines are typically a clear generator of brand character (or lack thereof); add characterless electric and hybrid powertrains to the mix and one can see a growing hazard for PSA in meaningless differentiation.
This leads us to the last point: new markets for Opel. Currently Opel is stranded in Europe although some of its output found customers in the US as Buicks (the Insignia, the Cascada and the previous Astra.) So, where will Opel head to now it can compete against GM? North America has been a hard market for PSA to crack. One scenario sees Opel as a “German” brand for PSA to push in the US, as a kind of wolf´s clothing for PSA’s platform sheep. Possible models (or their successors) would be the Astra and Crossland cars. In another scenario, Opel might be sold in Australia once the models have been refreshed with PSA platforms. One can imagine that Holden might not be too keen on seeing similar Opel models appearing on the market to face their domestic versions. Finally, there is Japan where PSA has been absent more or less forever. However, if the US market is a hard one, the Japanese market is even tougher and GM have never done well there – Opel would probably not fare any better. Finally: China. Ironically, this would mean Opel battling its quondam cousin Buick – again, once the overlapping products have been dealt with.
No doubt there are many readers who aren’t that bothered by Opel’s gradual fading away. From a customer point of view, it means less choice among mid-price brands. It also means for many employed by Opel an uncertain future, from administrators to designers and engineers to line-workers. From my partisan point of view, it means a worthy contender in the volume-market will be hollowed out just after a long and gradual return to making creditable and often well-styled vehicles.
And there’s always Vauxhall. I give that brand under a decade.