Currently reading: Ambitious revival planned for Vauxhall-Opel under PSA
Radical overhaul aims to simplify tech make-up, return to profit and expand globally

Vauxhall-Opel has launched a massive, all-encompassing revival project aimed initially at “fixing Europe” and then launching itself into the world’s biggest export markets, first China and then possibly the US.

Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group that acquired Vauxhall-Opel last year, is convinced that despite a long history of unprofitability under former owner General Motors, the revived British-German concern can become “a true European champion”. Car customers’ appreciation for “German precision” will be used as a basis to build exports where PSA’s French marques might not do as well.

Q&A: Michael Lohscheller, Opel CEO

Under new plans announced in Rüsselsheim, Germany, Vauxhall-Opel will end links with GM by 2024, building every new model on one of two highly flexible PSA-derived platforms, CMP and EMP2.

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It will offer an electrified (battery or plug-in hybrid) version of every Vauxhall-Opel model by 2024.

The electric initiative will start in 2020 with four models: a battery version of the newly launched 2019 Corsa; the Ampera-e; a Grandland X plug-in hybrid; and an electrified van. PSA’s new and extremely comprehensive development plan for Vauxhall-Opel – revealed last week by CEO Michael Lohscheller, engineering director Christian Müller and design chief Mark Adams – introduces a new suite of production efficiencies aimed at achieving a 2% operating margin by 2020 and a 6% margin, considered the industry standard, by 2026.

The R&D centre inside Vauxhall-Opel’s giant Rüsselsheim HQ will be expanded to become a centre of excellence for the whole PSA Group in 15 key areas – including seats, future petrol engines, hydrogen research and US legislative requirements – while keeping its status as the home of Vauxhall-Opel design.

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Its petrol engine work will include designing a new generation of units, fully capable of hybridisation, for the whole PSA Group. It will also design forthcoming platforms for the whole group’s light commercial vehicles. 

New platforms will save money: 

The decision to use just two highly flexible platforms instead of a previous nine is one of the main drivers of future profitability, Vauxhall- Opel chiefs claim. Platforms and out-of-sight mechanical parts account for around 60% of a car’s material cost, and using either the CMP (small) or EMP2 (larger) platform from PSA will save between 20% and 50% in development cost compared with previous platforms.

Engineering bosses have revealed that the new Corsa is at the 50% end of the savings scale – clearly because of its under-skin relationship with baby Peugeots and Citroëns – although Vauxhall-Opel bosses insist the car will “be very much a market leader in design and quality”.

Vauxhall design

Engineers say the EMP2 platform can support saloon, hatchback, estate, van, coupeà and convertible models, with four different track dimensions, five wheelbases, two cockpit architectures and two rear suspension designs on offer. It can also accommodate very large wheels, a previous limitation.

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Simplified engine range with electrification:

Vauxhall-Opel says its main powertrain focus will be meeting emissions targets. With PSA (but independent of the group at the time), it made the decision last year to comply with new engine exhaust regulations earlier than required. It now claims 79 of its models already comply ahead of time with forthcoming EU6d TEMP regulations, the toughest standards yet.

In future, all Vauxhall-Opel models will use just four engine families instead of a previous 10. Rüsselsheim will take global responsibility for designing and developing the PSA Group’s four-cylinder engines in the future. (One senior engineer let slip that a 1.6-litre four is coming soon, fully hybridised like the rest.)

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Opels and Vauxhalls will also make good use of PSA’s highly rated family of PureTech three-cylinder engines.

Through PSA, Vauxhall- Opel will have access to a new, electrified eight-speed dual- clutch transmission – plus an even newer (and extremely light) hybrid ’box, called DT2, with an integrated 48V motor inside its housing both to provide drive or to recover energy when coasting.

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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Jam_Sandwich 24 July 2018

I find it strange that a

I find it strange that a company that employs a british workforce, and takes pride in the fact that the vauxhall name has british history, is treated with such contempt. The financials that were just released by PSA shows that V/O were treated like the runt of the litter by GM, moving all the losses over to GME so as to show GM as strong and profitable in America. It then stood to reason that they wouldn't be willing to 'invest' in a part of the business that showed a loss. Hence why we end up with woeful engines and a 'new' corsa that is nothing more than a heavily revised Corsa D.

Surely we should be looking forward to the possiblity of a renewed vauxhall range, rather than writing them off. Parallels will be drawn to VAG and Skoda, why can't this buyout yield similar successes?


I for one am looking forward to seeing what PSA can do with V/O. After all, the more choice for car buyers out there, the better.

Mikey C 24 July 2018

Everyone here seems keen to

Everyone here seems keen to ditch the Vauxhall brand

The UK is Vauxhall/Opel's best individual market, that surely suggests that it has some value, and that the Opel brand is hardly loved across Europe either

Andrew Lee 24 July 2018


Ironically since Vauxhall is now a European (sorry, 'British') brand, I think they need to look to their late 1950s/madly American phase of styling for inspiration. Why not go for broke and revive tailfins/wraparound glass/crazy colours??? Cadillac managed it (under an English designer). I'm only half joking...