Vauxhall-Opel boss Karl-Thomas Neumann says Vauxhall is perfectly placed to help spearhead the company’s European revival, which is expected to culminate in a return to profitability by 2016.
In 2013, Vauxhall-Opel halted a 14-year slide in market share in Europe, and Neumann is confident that it can start to rise again this year, boosting his prospects of hitting profitability.
“There is much more work to do, but I can say that Vauxhall is in an incredibly strong position,” said Neumann. “It is led by an excellent team, it sits at the centre of British society as a brand and it is very close to the customer. My job there is to support the job they are doing and not interfere – they are doing a good job.”
Neumann conceded that Vauxhall was still too reliant on discounting and fleet market sales in the UK, but said the issues were being addressed. “In the UK prices are low across the board and the fleet market strong, so we are not alone,” he said. “But to change that we need to shift the image of the brand and build our product line-up; we are doing both, and the change is coming.
Last April Neumann was part of a team that successfully campaigned for a £3bn investment from parent company GM to develop 23 models and 13 new engines by 2016.
“We know we need a new generation of engines, and they will be rolled out very quickly over the next three years,” said Neumann. “We are already there with that solution. The next issue is new products; we know what we need, and we’re working on it.”
In particular, Neumann suggested Vauxhall-Opel needs to work on expanding its line-up for the booming SUV market and establishing its credentials for good design and cutting edge connectivity technology.