FRANKFURT Aug 12 General Motors' European
transformation is gathering pace, it said on Tuesday, with the
vast majority of its former Chevrolet dealers in the region now
selling only Opel-branded vehicles to boost the once-flagging
The U.S. group mothballed Chevrolet in Europe last year to
concentrate on ramping up the market share of Germany-based Opel
- sold under the Vauxhall marque in Britain - and bring an end
to damaging in-house competition that had eroded the
profitability of both brands.
"The dealer transition from Chevy to Opel is working
extremely well; 85 percent have converted to selling only Opel,"
the chief financial officer of the group's Opel division said.
In the past a customer walked in to a dealership looking for
an Opel and ended up walking out with a Chevrolet, Michael
Lohscheller explained, adding that Opel will be developing a
range of models targeted at former Chevrolet buyers.
GM has made the turnaround of its European business a top
priority after racking up $18 billion in losses over the past 12
"Opel showrooms will become bigger," Lohscheller said. "For
us this is a really good opportunity to strengthen the Opel
brand. We will try to capture customers who were in the
low-price segment (of the market)."
Though sales in Russia appear to be at the mercy of an
increasingly fragile economy as the Ukraine crisis rumbles on,
Lohscheller said that GM remains "fully on track" to make its
European operations profitable by "mid-decade", though he
declined to clarify whether that meant next year.
GM had 1,900 Chevrolet dealers in Europe before abandoning
the brand, though it still uses the Chevy brand in Russia.
Opel's market share in western Europe rose by 10.3 percent
year on year to 7.6 percent in June, according to data from the
Association of European Carmakers (ACEA), but Lohscheller said
that new models will further help the brand to boost sales and
Volumes are expected to receive a boost with the launch of
the next generation of the Opel Corsa, a model with annual sales
of about 370,000, which is due to hit European showrooms at the
end of the year.
(Editing by David Goodman)