General Motors hasn’t known what to do with its German subsidiary, Opel, for some time. Back in 2009 GM put Opel up for sale before reneging on that decision. Then in 2011 rumours circled that GM were once again planning on offloading the chronically underperforming brand. However, they made an about turn in 2013 when they ‘realised the influence Opel had on technological development within the group’ and decided to fork over a substantial cash injection to reboot Opel.
It worked, and Opel’s resurgence has been strong ever since, bolstered by strong product offerings from the likes of the ADAM, Corsa, and of course former world, and current SA COTY winner, the Opel Astra.
However in a shock move, General Motors has sold off Opel once and for all, with PSA Group (Peugeot and Citroen) picking up the reins. It’s admittedly not an alien connection to have made, as Opel had been working with PSA for several years now on small displacement drivetrains as part of its development plans.
Opel, and the Vauxhall subsidiary, as well as GM’s European financial operations have been purchased by PSA for a sum of €2.2 billion. With the new acquisition, PSA become the second largest automotive company in Europe, with a total 17% market share.
“We are proud to join forces with Opel/Vauxhall and are deeply committed to continuing to develop this great company and accelerating its turnaround,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman of the Managing Board of PSA. “We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage. We intend to manage PSA and Opel/Vauxhall capitalizing on their respective brand identities. Having already created together winning products for the European market, we know that Opel/Vauxhall is the right partner. We see this as a natural extension of our relationship and are eager to take it to the next level.”
“We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees,” continued Mr. Tavares.
However, General Motors haven’t relinquished all rights to the Opel brand entirely, as the deal includes the option for GM to purchase shares in PSA.
Opel will continue to share technology with GM for all products currently built sharing engines, platform architecture, and other technical systems, although all intellectual copyright remains the property of GM. As such, GM will still benefit from badge engineering projects such as Buick models that are rebadged Opels.
However, going forward, Opel models will be moving to PSA platforms, which means the Astra will share underpinning with the 308, Corsa with the 208 etc.
Both General Motors and PSA have made it clear they intend to collaborate on future projects in the deployment of electrification technologies, with PSA looking to benefit from GM’s Chevrolet Bolt/Opel Ampera-e development.
What does this mean locally?
Well, we’re not so sure. In recent years the team at GMSA have invested heavily in the Opel brand, establishing standalone showrooms and ploughing massive amounts of money into marketing, culminating in a victory for Opel at this year’s WesBank Car of the Year awards.
We’ve reached out to both GMSA and Peugeot South Africa for further comment as to when the handover will be made locally and how it will affect the Opel brand, and will update this article as soon as we receive feedback.
Whatever happens, we can only hope that this exchange benefits the Opel brand, as the investment and resultant success in recent years has sparked much support for the resurgence of a once great manufacturer.