Since acquiring Vauxhall-Opel last year, the PSA Group has been developiing an ambitious plan to revive the two brands - and to help them grow into new markets.
Michael Lohscheller has recently been named the new boss of the two brands, and Autocar asked him to outline his vision for the future.
Will Vauxhall and Opel models be identical in the future?
“Yes, because this system has worked well for about the past 40 years. Vauxhall is a huge market for us. The input of British buyers is vital.
And with Steve Norman, we have a very experienced guy in charge of Vauxhall. We make sure we hear the voice of the Vauxhall customer at every stage.”
How long will the relationship with former owner GM, mainly Buick, continue?
“We still have a contractual relationship. We produce cars for them and we take cars from Korea. This will continue for maybe two or three years. But we’ve announced that all Opel and Vauxhall cars will have electrified versions by 2024. That should be a strong clue.”
“We are finding a new face right now. Today, we are talking engineering, but our very firm intention is to keep the Opel and Vauxhall brand values very separate and we are working on that right now. In three or four months, we will make our intentions very clear.”
You’re a full-line manufacturer. Do you intend to launch models in new segments, or kill any?
“We always explore new ideas, but for now we should concentrate on doing some of our existing cars as well as possible. A good example is the Combo [small van]. It’s a growing segment and electrification is going to play a huge role there. PSA is the market leader, but Vauxhall-Opel is tiny. We can do much better.”
What is your policy on sports cars?
“I love sports cars, but they are a challenge. Maybe they might become a little easier for us as part of a bigger group, but we would have to find intelligent solutions.”
You have a new plan to implement. When will you know if you have succeeded, and what will success look like?
“Success will be us making money; getting to a 6% operating margin as soon as possible. Success will also be becoming a global player. It is very important that we grow outside Europe. If I can fix Europe quickly, then I want to have electric Opels in China.”