The man responsible for reversing the fortunes of Vauxhall/Opel in Europe has written a frank letter to employees, admitting the company’s shortcomings and laying out a plan of action.
Nick Reilly was appointed president of General Motors Europe in December and must move fast to restructure and reposition the company.
His first decision is to drop the GME name for the business. Instead it will be called just Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in the rest of the world. The name-change underlines the need for the company to make a fresh start with greater independence from GM.
In a letter to all employees, Reilly said he wants Vauxhall/Opel to be known as “a leading European manufacturer of high quality, desirable automotive products, based on German engineering, …respected around the world.”
Reilly added: “To be winners again we need to take bold decisions, but it’s also important to recognise where we don’t lead. We’re missing an entry in the ‘mini’ segment, we don’t have an identified successor for the Combo light van, we’re not leading in hybrids or pure electric vehicles and our traditional powertrains have mixed performance in fuel economy, CO2 and driveability.”
Reilly said Vauxhall/Opel will maximise the strength of its new products and promised to be innovative in car show concepts. He added that the company will look much more closely at the numbers in future.
“We can’t afford to have any country or any product losing money in the long-term,” he said.
The relationship with GM North America and the question of what the right level of autonomy is still a big concern, he added.
Reilly believes that the focus on global platforms and parts sharing had gone too far – and that there needs to be greater respect for local customers’ needs.
“Our design and engineering people need to ensure there is Opel/Vauxhall DNA in every car we sell,” he said. “But we should still take maximum advantage of being a member of a leading global automotive family. We’re better for being part of GM and GM is better for having Vauxhall and Opel.”