GENEVA — Adam Opel AG's Concept A — unveiled at the Geneva auto show — may be the basis of a vehicle jointly built by Opel andMotor Corp. in Eastern Europe.
Opel showed the vehicle to gage reaction, says Robert Hendry, managing director of Opel. The planned subcompact vehicle is smaller than the Opel Corsa and will be built at Opel's plant in Poland and sold in Western and Eastern Europe.
will build a similar vehicle at its plant in Hungary. The Opel and Suzuki vehicles will share a platform but use completely different engines. Opel's vehicle would compete in price with the SEAT Arosa and Ka.
Opel's aluminum chassis sports car Speedster also attracted attention at the show and could be sold in the U.S., says Michael Burns,Europe president. Powered by a lightweight 4-cyl., the mid-engine car was developed with Lotus Engineering in Norfolk, U.K. and could be built by Lotus if GM decides to produce it. A decision could come in the fall.
In other news, Opel executives say the automaker will not venture into the high luxury market and, instead, will rely on Cadillac and Saab to represent GM. “It's clear we can do more with the Cadillac brand in Europe,” Burns says.
The concept vehicles and marketing plan for Cadillac and Saab are part of Opel's new objective to build the brand, which has become blurred during the last five years, the automaker says. The company expects to hire a brand director by summer to concentrate on identifying Opel's image and its customers.
“This will help get the company focused,” Hendry says.
The automaker will first center on Germany, where it has consistently lost market share. In 1998, Opel's share of Europe's largest market dropped from 15.63% to 14.20%.
Opel is losing market share because of three things says Burns: the market is extremely competitive, companies are fragmenting and Opel has been in the public light for the wrong reasons.