FRANKFURT, Sept 10 South Korean auto makers are
increasingly focused on chasing premium clients in Europe,
creating an opportunity for General Motors to push its
own value brand Chevy, Thomas Sedran, President of Chevrolet
Europe said on Tuesday.
"When I see the content and the pricing of Hyundai and Kia,
it feels like they want to move up. This is where I see an
opportunity for us," said Sedran, who has been in his job for
only 70 days after moving over from GM's Opel, where he was
"The idea is with everybody moving upmarket this creates
space for us," Sedran told journalists at the Frankfurt car
Chevy has struggled to win market share in Europe, a factor
which led GM to bring in Sedran to run the European operations
of Cadillac and Chevy.
A turnaround specialist, Sedran says Chevy clients want
well-designed cars which are priced 10-15 percent below other
mainstream brands like Opel.
"One of the biggest challenges we face as a brand in Europe
is the comparatively low brand awareness," he said, adding that
Chevy had a 1.5 percent share of the European market in August.
He said his first priority was to improve profitability, a
factor which will result in fewer deals designed to "buy volume"
such as bulk sales to rental companies.
It was too early to talk about major steps for addressing
the European markets, such as shifting production away from
Korea to Europe, he added.
Sedran, a former consultant at Alix Partners, said he wanted
to heal a rift between Opel and Chevy which has existed since
2009, when General Motors explored a sale of Opel to a group led
by Canada's Magna.
"With the possible sale, the teams were split and this
created some wounds," Sedran said.
"There is now more appreciation, understanding and respect
than there was before. We need to get this into our cars, our
There is potential for closer cooperation without
cannibalising each other, Sedran added. There was only about 20
percent overlap between the clients of Opel and Chevrolet.