The European arm of General Motors (NYSE:GM), largely consisting of the struggling Opel brand, has not exactly been a very bright spot for the Detroit-based company recently, as years of investment neglect and a financial recession culminated in significant losses, aging products, and the subsequent consequences that the latter factor carries with it.
However, General Motors — now under the control of new CEO Mary Barra, who relieved Dan Akerson at the helm earlier this month — has recommitted its support for the brand, and is again stoking the furnaces of the Opel machine to pull the name back from the brink. On Monday, Barra affirmed that Opel was a vital part of the GM family.
“It is no accident that I chose to come to Germany. I thought it was very important to reinforce my commitment to Opel, Opel is clearly a vital part of our company,” Reuters quoted her as saying.
GM said last April that it would be infusing the unit with 4 billion euros (about $5.5 billion) to finance the creation of 23 new models, and 13 new engines by 2016. To further boost Opel’s prospects, General Motors is pulling its Chevrolet brand from the region to avoid any cannibalization issues that might arise.
Opel said back in December that its Ruesselsheim plant, which produces the Insignia car and is supposed to start building the Zafira Tourer van next year, will be making a third vehicle starting next year. Few details are known, but production of the new vehicle will “go hand-in-hand” with additional spending by GM in Germany, Barra said, adding that she’s “very pleased with Opel’s progress so far.”
Bloomberg reports that Barra is planning her first trip out to Europe since becoming CEO, and that a visit to Opel’s Ruesselsheim plant is on the docket. The site added that sales of Opel and Vauxhall — another GM property in Europe — fell 1.5 percent last year, to about 825,000 vehicles.