Opel/Vauxhall is considering expanding its product offerings in China and launching in new markets such as South America, Australia South Africa, CEO Nick Reilly said.
General Motors Co.’s European unit is seeking to expand globally to offset a big decline in sales in the weak European market where Reilly expects Opel’s new car sales to fall to 1 million this year from 1.2 million last year.
Reilly ruled out exporting Opels to the United States because the brand’s cars have too much overlap with other GM cars sold in the U.S., such as the Opel Insignia-based Buick Regal.
Speaking in an interview with the Berlin Tagesspiegel daily newspaper, Reilly said: “We are considering introducing or re-introducing Opel in a series of markets.”
Dealers in South America and South Africa are asking for Opel products, Reilly said. Australia, “where Opel has a strong image,” is another possibility.
In China, Opel could appeal to different buyers than GM’s Chevrolet and Buick brands that are already sold in the world’s largest auto market, Reilly said.
“We wouldn’t suddenly sell 200,000 cars in China,” he said, adding that the brand would have to remain a non-volume seller because it could not match the low prices that China’s buyers generally pay.
“Opel’s image in China is strong but our product range is too small,” said Reilly, who headed GM’s Asian operations before he became Opel CEO in November.
Opel would like to launch its Astra compact sedan and Insignia large sedan in China where it already sells the Corsa subcompact and and Zafira minivans. Opel sold 3,000 cars in China last year.
GM has in the past shied away from aggressively selling Opel cars in markets outside Europe because of fears that they could cannibalize sales of its other brands such as Chevrolet, Buick and Australia’s Holden, which use Opel technology.
But Reilly said that apart from the U.S., there is very little overlap in most global markets.
“Opel is not a direct rival to other GM brands, For German brands with German technology, there’s an especially high regard throughout the world,” Reilly said.
Opel has not decided whether it would use GM existing dealer channels or independent dealers if it expands more aggressively globally, he said.