Nick Reilly tells employees where company must improve
18 January 2010

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.”

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18 January 2010

“We can’t afford to have any country or any product losing money in the long-term,” he said."

Did I just hear the crack of Reilly’s hand on SAABs noggin?

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.

Sounds like the exact opposite of Ford’s new philosophy of global oneness.

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
—Robert Allen Zimmerman

18 January 2010

[quote jackjflash]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.

Sounds like the exact opposite of Ford’s new philosophy of global oneness.[/quote]

Yes, I thought that too. I think Reilly may be right if he can make it financially viable.

18 January 2010

[quote Autocar]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 [/quote]

I think someone needs to tell Reilly that OPEL's are based Swedish Engineering.
Actually OPEL's are designed by Antony Lo, who worked under Michael Mauer at SAAB and later took over from Mauer after he moved to Porsche and went on to design the Award winning Aero-X and 9-X Bio-Hybrid Concepts. Since 2006 Lo and the rest of the Pixbo team are now based in Rüsselsheim, HO to GME's Advanced design and Engineering centre.

[quote Autocar]“We can’t afford to have any country or any product losing money in the long-term,”[/quote]

Not sure if this is a direct dig at SAAB as the Signum wasn't the greatest of successes. Lets face it it makes business sense to only make positive business revenue.

I think what Reilly is getting at by mentioning OPEL should have it's own individual DNA is that GM in the past has been victims of their own marketing plans. Global platforms are perfect and absolutely necessary of a company like GM. However the focus should be on making sure each brand has it's own identity. If GM had kept certain design and engineering elements unique to their brands then GM customers would lead to those brands. SAAB = efficient performance driving via the turbo. GM decided that was a great idea and used it for OPEL, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn and Chevrolet. SAAB's Corporate Identity Diluted. Reilly can see the same happening to OPEL so therefore he words should be taken as a statement that you won't get the same level or refinement and engineering in a cheaper Chevrolet.

I hope that is what Reilly means and it would be good to know that if that is the case, then GM would have learnt from their past mitakes.

It is a real shame that it has been at the almost extinction of a great brand with fantastic heritage form them to realise it.

The difference with Ford is that in the past FORD North America has used different powertrains and Archtectures than that of FORD in Europe. The company is in the process of changing that.

18 January 2010

you know that you are wrong, nearly everything sold under Saab lable lately was developt by Opel, GM´s second largest development center world wide is based in Rüsselsheim Germany, that since many years. At the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim work more engineers than people work for the whole Saab company (4300 in 2007) and sending a handfull of Saab engineers to Rüsselsheim has no effect on the fact that the ture basic research and development is done by germans in Germany.


18 January 2010

[quote WooDz]If GM had kept certain design and engineering elements unique to their brands then GM customers would lead to those brands. SAAB = efficient performance driving via the turbo. GM decided that was a great idea and used it for OPEL, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn and Chevrolet. SAAB's Corporate Identity Diluted. Reilly can see the same happening to OPEL so therefore he words should be taken as a statement that you won't get the same level or refinement and engineering in a cheaper Chevrolet.[/quote]

A little bit of SAAB fairy dust sprinkled over the entire GM range- it wouldn't have been so bad if SAAB had gotten something out of it too.

19 January 2010

[quote WooDz]I think someone needs to tell Reilly that OPEL's are based Swedish Engineering.
[/quote]

Ah yes, Anthony Lo, the well known Swedish engineer who happens to be Chinese and has a Masters degree in Transportation Design from the Royal College of Art in London, England. The same Anthony Lo GM hired in 2000 to design all the SAABs everyone here seems to hate.

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
—Robert Allen Zimmerman

19 January 2010

Lets look at the great OPEL engineering-

Engine Management - SAAB
Fuel Injection - SAAB
Fuel Management . SAAB
Eco-Tec - Name given by GM Engineered by SAAB
Turbo Engineering - f you don't know the answer to this one.....
Crash Protection - SAAB
Active Safety Systems - SAAB
Optical Bus systems - SAAB
Direct Injection - SAAB
e85 - SAAB
AWD with eLSD - SAAB

Get the picture.

Antony Lo came along with Michael Mauer from Mercedes. Mauer designed the 9-X and 9-3 Concepts. GM slapped the 9-X face on the MCE 9-5. Brian Nesbitt over looked the Current 9-3 which is based on Antony Lo's Aero-X Concept.

You believe what you want to. You can take GM/OPEL's press releases as they come. Or you can dig a bit deeper as I have. Epsilon II was 80% engineered by the SAAB team that was puled down from Sweden. Yeah Yeah they may not all be Swedish and they all worked for GM. However they were not OPEL engineers. That information came from a GM Employee who is quite high up the chain.

19 January 2010

I actually thought my 1st post was quite positive about OPEL considering the circumstances. I'm not trying to ram SAAB down people's throats just trying to give credit where credit is due. It is a fallacy that OPEL have engineered everything for GM in the past 20 years. This hasn't been the case and I'm just trying to let you guys know that.

I'm also not trying to tell people that SAAB make the best cars in the world. They don't; and I wouldn't want to try to convince anybody that they do. However is does frustrate me when I read how great OPEL's engineering is when they haven't engineered it.

Other than that, I'm actually glad to see OPEL is restructuring its business. I hope Reilly is the man to do it. Carl-Peter Forster's shoe's are pretty big to fill so I'm sure there is a lot of pressure on OPEL's new boss to get the job done.

19 January 2010

[quote WooDz]Yeah Yeah they may not all be Swedish and they all worked for GM. However they were not OPEL engineers.[/quote]

I knew you would figure it out eventually, they are all GM engineers. GM is a global company and has capable people from every country on earth working for them. Car companies will never be the separate autonomous entities they once were, that’s just a fact of modern day manufacturing if you want to stay competitive. Consider that Opel still manufactures 40% of their product in Germany, but VAG has effectively moved a lot of their manufacturing to other countries by buying up other car companies and manufacturing the same car under different marques. Everyone knows there is overproduction right now and that is the stumbling block for SAAB, a perennial under seller and costly to build in its native country. The fact that there are Opel and Vauxhall equivalents doesn’t help either.

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
—Robert Allen Zimmerman

19 January 2010

Thing is SAAB employees still see themselves as SAAB people and not GM people. Maybe some of that is to do with the way they have been accepted or lack of acceptance from GM. I have been involved with SAAB since 2001 so I can talk from experience. As an example when SAAB Deutschland was moved to Rüsselsheim there was a fair bit of animosity from the OPEL staff thinking that the SAAB people were a bit bigoted. However that really wasn't the case. SAAB was looking forward to the move but once they got there the initial negativity damaged what could have been a very good relationship. Although SAAB are a premium brand I don't consider it to be as ostentatious as say Mercedes. In fact the reason why I choose SAAB is because I consider it better than mainstream but carries quite a lot of exclusivity.

I think some of the major issues GM/OPEL has over other brands is that references made about the the Porsche Cayenne being a Toureg seem to go unnoticed. Or the XF being based on the Mondeo isn't hugely publicised. With GM though all products end up being the new "such en such" is based on the OPEL "whatever". Chevy Cruze for example. Why can't it just be the Chevy Cruze why does it have to be "The Astra based Chevy Cruze" Will the media write the "Seat Ibiza based AUDI A1" when it arrives as that was the first model to use the platform. Somehow I don't think the media will write that.

As for over production SAAB is not the culprit. 100,000 vehicles is nothing to the 20 Million vehicles in over supply. Companies like Toyota, GM, FORD and Hyundai (shh don't wake HyundaiSmoke up) Need to cut their production by about 20% as they are the companies that will have the largest impact on global production not SAAB. SAAB can produce vehicles 40% cheaper than OPEL. Due to Labour and Transport costs, Germany is the most expensive place to produce a vehicle hence I guess why VAG pushes a lot of their production abroad.

Now we're way off topic, so back to OPEL. The similarities between SAAB and OPEL end with the Architectures that's the truth of the matter. AUDI and SEAT have more technical similarities. I don't really want to post another war and peace but there are enough differences between the brands that OPEL couldn't even produce the Vectra in Sweden. It was also why Cadillac couldn't move production of the BLS to Rüsselsheim because it would mean reprogramming of the production line due to the amendments SAAB made to the Epsilon platform.

What I really find a shame the companies with part just as is it seemed as if SAAB and GM had actually made peace and were pushing in the same direction.

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