Ellesmere Port Vauxhall factory
Vauxhall has an intrinsic value that is not currently echoed in its sales and profit, according to new UK managing director Stephen Norman.
Talking to Autocar on the day he was announced as the new boss of Vauxhall and Opel Ireland, Norman said that Vauxhall is an iconic brand with “modest positioning” that needs to be conveyed to consumers in a way that produces better results than today.
Last year, Vauxhall's UK sales fell by 22% to 195,137 vehicles, taking its market share from 9.3% to 7.7%, the biggest drop suffered by any car maker.
Norman said: “There's nothing wrong with the brand or the cars; I need to look at whether they're being sold in the right channels at the right prices.”
He added that new owner PSA Group, which bought Vauxhall and Opel from General Motors last year, clearly saw the worth of the brands or would not have taken them on.
Norman said the fate of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory, which has announced 650 job cuts in recent months, is “inextricably linked” to improved sales and profit.
“The motor industry produces what customers require, Supply will follow the demand.
“If Ellesmere Port is a productive factory and demand is high enough, then clearly the plant has a role to play.”
Norman recognised that SUVs will continue to play a key role in Vauxhall’s success, describing the main focus of its product plan to be SUVs for “the foreseeable future”.
He would not be drawn on how quickly electrified models would notably contribute to Vauxhall sales except to say that they were of “increasing importance”. PSA has already confirmed that Vauxhall will launch an electric version of the Corsa in 2019 and a plug-in hybrid Grandland X.
Norman replaced Rory Harvey, who will leave the business at the end of February. Norman was previously PSA's sales and marketing boss.