Vauxhall boss Stephen Norman believes his company’s recent emphasis on 'Britishness' in advertising may pay dividends if there is a hard Brexit at the end of next month.
Norman describes the current UK car market as “incredibly difficult” and “not just overheated but absolutely scalding” as manufacturers struggle to clear large car stocks, over-ordered at the beginning of the year, to meet tougher CO2 targets. Even so, in the first nine months of 2019 Vauxhall has managed to restore 0.2% of the market share - to 7.7% - it lost in 2018.
“I believe September will be the last month of ‘normal trading’ as we head into Brexit,” said Norman, “and after that things could get really hard".
But 65-year old Norman, who sees himself as a natural optimist and describes leading Vauxhall as “the best job I've ever had”, believes there could well be an upside to a hard Brexit for his company. He has prepared an evolution to his “British brand since 1903” advertising pitch that will carry an even stronger patriotic message. “It will make people smile,” he says, and suggests that in a very difficult market it might even add as much as 0.5% market share.
Norman's comments echo those made recently by Carlos Tavares, the boss of Vauxhall parent company PSA Group, who said that Vauxhall could be Brexit "survivors".
Business next year should be boosted by the reappearance of the performance-oriented VXR badge on a range of electric-only models. There will even be a VXR version of the Vivaro van.
Meanwhile, Vauxhall’s first all-electric offering, the Corsa e, will soon hit the market at £29,900, a price Stephen Norman says is dictated by PSA’s own costs.
Though ostensibly high against the launch prices of conventional Vauxhall Corsas, the EV will still provide owners with savings after four years of ownership because of its much lower fuelling cost.
Vauxhall is currently clearing the decks for PSA group boss Carlos Tavares’s “six-plus-three” configuration for Opel-Vauxhall — six car silhouettes and three vans — by confirming that Vauxhall will not offer any car models below the new Corsa after January 2020. Viva and Adam are being run out now.