Karl-Thomas Neumann has been chairman of Vauxhall-Opel for just over a year. In that time, parent company GM has firmed up its European strategy, pulled Chevrolet out of Europe and started to co-develop new models with PSA Peugeot-Citroën.
An electrical engineer by training, Neumann joined GM from Volkswagen, where he was running the group’s interests in China. Previously, he was VW’s head of electronics R&D.
GM has been recovering from the darks days of chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009. How is the European recovery going?
“We said we will break even in the middle of the decade, the latest by 2016. Last year we improved our result by 50 per cent. For the first time for 14 years, we kept market share.”
Can you update us on your joint ventures with PSA?
“Last year we sorted a number of things out and I met [new PSA boss] Carlos Tavares on his first day, shook his hand and said this is how we are progressing. Number one is logistics; this is the simplest. Last year we already saved around €60 million each. Second is purchasing and we now have the second-largest purchasing volume in Europe.”
What about shared car projects?
“We’re going to build three cars together: Meriva, Zafira and next-gen Combo van. We will do this on a PSA platform with PSA engines. We will make sure it is an Opel using some of our modules but their platform.” Why share platforms when GM has huge global volume?
“Vauxhall-Opel is the third-biggest car company in Europe — we sell one million cars a year — but this is not enough when you have the spectrum we do.”