Chevrolet Europe is being axed because parent company GM saw better opportunities to invest elsewhere, and because the company was undermining Vauxhall-Opel’s sales, according to Chevrolet’s global boss Alan Batey.
The decision to withdraw Chevrolet from Europe, announced at the end of last year, was made after the firm recorded around 200,000 sales in the region, taking a market share of less than one per cent. In contrast, Vauxhall-Opel took a market share of around six per cent.
“You have to put the decision in the context of Chevrolet and GM as a whole,” said Batey. “It is a massive company with pressures on it to invest in many different areas. Chevrolet sells five million cars globally, and we see significant opportunities to grow the brand rapidly and significantly in Asia, for instance. So it came down to a question of deciding where to place the investment we had.”
Batey also conceded that GM failed to sufficiently differentiate Chevrolet and Vauxhall-Opel products. “The problem was that the products were based on the same platforms and were too similar,” he said. “They cost the same to produce, so it wasn’t possible to present one as a budget version of the other, and the brands weren’t sufficiently opposed for one to be seen as more upmarket.”
Vauxhall-Opel boss Karl-Thomas Neumann added: “We decided Vauxhall-Opel was the stronger brand, and that for it to thrive we needed to avoid disturbing that,” he said. “It was unfortunate that we had the approach of sharing dealers – it was confusing for customers to see similar products without differentiation in the same place. There was an issue of differentiation.”
New GM boss Mary Barra stressed her support for Vauxhall-Opel: "Opel and Vauxhall are very important to us. We have made the decision to invest in them and grow them. They are managed well and we consider them as one brand - Vauxhall is a key part of the story. We believe the decisions we made at the end of last year [Chevrolet's axing] will help both."