Vauxhall is set to move upmarket in a bid to avoid a threat from its expanding Chevrolet sister brand, according to senior company sources, with the latter intending to double its sales in Europe during the next five years.
Vauxhall/Opel insiders say the brand’s future models will place greater emphasis on premium styling and cutting-edge technology. Chevrolet, meanwhile, will position itself as a value brand that pushes ease of ownership.
One of the first examples of the differentiation between the two brands will be Vauxhall’s next-generation seven-seat MPV. Instead of directly replacing the current Zafira, Vauxhall/Opel is developing a bigger, more sophisticated model designed to compete with the Ford Galaxy and S-Max.
Today’s Zafira will be given a thorough facelift and remain on sale in its current format. Chevrolet, meanwhile, will sell the more utilitarian Orlando.
A Vauxhall/Opel insider said Chevrolet and Vauxhall would not see any overlap of potential buyers. “We are targeting different people and the approach is roughly ‘value versus cutting edge’,” said our source.
“A good example is the next-generation Corsa. Although the new small car architecture will be engineered by GM in Korea, the Corsa will be engineered in Germany. The Corsa will be executed in a very different way, and the differences between it and the equivalent Chevrolet will go deep. We will use different component modules under the skin, as well as an upmarket interior and the application of more high technology.”
Vauxhall is likely to sell around 1.14 million cars across Europe this year. Chevrolet is planning to expand from today’s sales of just under 500,000 units per year to a million by 2015.
A raft of new models, including a hatchback version of the Astra-size Cruze, the new Orlando seven-seat MPV and the new Aveo city car, are expected to drive Chevy’s appeal in Europe, as will the company’s new five-year ‘wrap-around’ warranty.