Fresh models and post-Brexit marketing campaign are part of ambitious plan to increase UK market share by a third in two years
Steve Cropley Autocar
21 January 2020

Vauxhall is using Britain’s imminent exit from the EU as the backdrop for its boldest marketing campaign in years. The move is part of a bid to boost its UK market share for cars and vans by a third – from 7.5% to double figures – by 2022.

Managing director Stephen Norman believes Vauxhall has a unique opportunity to benefit from a possible post-election change in the UK’s social landscape. It has already begun using a challenging new strapline – ‘New Rules, Britannia’ – for a radical, all-media advertising campaign that started last month with the launch of the all-new Corsa.

Building on the successful ‘British brand since 1903’ campaign that he launched soon after his appointment two years ago, Norman intends to position Vauxhall more directly as a maker of cars and vans ‘Built in Britain’ or ‘Made exclusively for Britain’. The move will make Vauxhall one of the country’s biggest spenders on automotive advertising.

To achieve his double-digit goal, Norman admits he needs to more than double Vauxhall’s conquest sales, potentially gaining many new customers – mainly from Ford. The plan depends on four main themes: boosting retail car sales from its current 6.6% market share to double digits; doubling light commercial vehicle sales from its current 10%; making the Corsa-e the top-selling electric car in the UK; and more than halving Vauxhall’s sales to the less profitable daily rental market, which currently accounts for a fifth of volume.

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Vauxhall wants to achieve its aims with a vehicle range that Norman describes as “six plus three”: six passenger cars and three vans. Although the current range is smaller than in recent years – the unprofitable Viva and Adam have been dropped – Norman believes the far greater market appeal of the forthcoming models will more than make the difference.

“The new Corsa is a terrific car,” he said, “and when the new Mokka arrives, it will double our small-car appeal. The new Astra, which we’ll start selling in 2021, offers improvements that are almost exponential compared with its predecessor. Our other models will provide important support but these three will be the brand drivers we’ll need to more than double our conquest sales.

“Then, if our existing brand loyalty holds up, which it should, we’ll get to double figures. Of course, then the big job will be to keep it.”

By 2022, Vauxhall will be selling electric versions of the Corsa and new Mokka (due at the end of 2020) and it will have launched a plug-in hybrid version of the new Astra (mid-2021) to sell alongside the existing Grandland X PHEV.

Vauxhall’s sporting VXR brand will return as e-VXR and be applied to the Corsa, Vivaro and Mokka, giving a clue to these models’ driving characteristics. Although Norman believes the Corsa-e will become Britain’s best-selling electric car, he says Tesla will probably be Britain’s best-selling electric marque.

The ‘New Rules’ marketing campaign dates from last September and a fateful conversation about business growth between Norman and PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares. “He asked me when we expected to achieve a double-digit market share,” Norman said, “and I had to say we hadn’t exactly planned for that. We were looking at less than that. Give me a few weeks, I said, and we’ll have a plan…”

Norman confirmed the Insignia flagship will be replaced, adding that cars of its size still play an important flagship role. Vauxhall-Opel’s new role as part of the big PSA Group – soon to be further enlarged by a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – may well improve the business case for a model that is its class’s top seller by a significant margin.

Will the next-generation Astra be built in UK?

Vauxhall MD Stephen Norman has said a decision whether to build the next-generation Astra at Ellesmere Port has not yet been reached, but he agreed it must be close and the Ellesmere workforce has made “enormous” efforts to promote a continuation of production. “I can’t say for certain that the Astra will stay in the UK,” he said, “but there are absolutely no signs that it won’t.”

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Comments
61

21 January 2020

Vauxhall promoting its Britishness when it has long been Opel's clone ...

When there is not enough Vauxhall-ness in its DNA, Vauxhall falls back on its 'Britishness' ... Pull the other one!

 

21 January 2020

Carlton, Cavalier, Cresta, Firenza, Ventora, Victor, Viva, Prince Henry et al - to replace those bland "international" GM-sourced names of the past four decades? Yes, please give us more englishness, Mister Vauxhall! Britannia, rule the roads...

21 January 2020
I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

21 January 2020
jameshobiecat wrote:

I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

Agreed.

If UK government is to be believed, they don’t want alignment with EU and Ellesmere Port will close. The boss would be better lobbying for these jobs rather than wrapping himself in a union flag.

Embarrassing.

21 January 2020
jameshobiecat wrote:

I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

Vauxhall risks offending 48% (and rising) of UK customers. Not a good strategy when the concept of 'britishness' has become so tainted.
The union jack Mini tailight is perhaps less unacceptable because it is possible to overlook its political connotations and refer back to the make-believe world of 'The Italian Job'

21 January 2020
abkq wrote:
jameshobiecat wrote:

I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

Vauxhall risks offending 48% (and rising) of UK customers. Not a good strategy when the concept of 'britishness' has become so tainted.
The union jack Mini tailight is perhaps less unacceptable because it is possible to overlook its political connotations and refer back to the make-believe world of 'The Italian Job'

The latest opinion polls say 52% of the public back remain, so that 58% has already risen.

21 January 2020
*48%

21 January 2020
jameshobiecat wrote:

I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

Whilst this advertising campaign seems at odds with the cars design and build, ie not British, I don't see why it should be off putting, after all vauxhall is a British brand (British name) even if it hasn't been British owned for years, and I really can't see how anyone could see the Union flag tail lights on a mini as offensive, naff or tacky maybe but not offensive.

21 January 2020
It is now one of the most "Global" brands on the planet!

There is no "British" volume manufacturer anymore or, for that matter, many indigenous European ones...

PSA/FCA... now globally owned
Daimler-Benz... Large foreign shareholding
Renault.. part of an Asian alliance
Volvo.. Chinese owned
MG.. --ditto--
JLR.. Indian

Of the Western players only VAG, BMW, Ford & GM have remained wholly owned and based in their country of origin, glad to be proved wrong.

22 January 2020
jameshobiecat wrote:

I've always thought it odd that Vauxhall pretends to be British when it was for a long time german/American and is now French.
Personally I find emphasising Britishness deeply off-putting at this time (to the point where I find the taillights of a mini offensive); Vauxhall are taking a big risk.

How do you cope with life if you find a tail lamp offensive? Sweet jesus

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