The design of Vauxhall/Opel’s new city car will be signed off within the next six to eight weeks ahead of it going on-sale towards the end of 2012.
This is according to Nick Reilly, the boss of General Motors Europe. Reilly told Autocar that he believes his experience in conceiving, building and selling small cars will allow the car to be profitable in what is traditionally a difficult market segment to make money in.
“The whole cost chain, from development through to marketing, has to change in order to hit worthwhile profit targets with small car,” he said. “Not every rival of ours has this experience.
“There is a segment in which wealthier and younger car buyers don’t associate status with the size of the car. They want a good-looking car and are interested in technology and environmental factors such as CO2, or features such as an iPod connector.
“This segment has great potential – and there are not a great deal of rivals that are successfully exploiting it. That’s the reason why we are working intensively on such a project.”
Reilly said the pricing of the car, which will be designed and built in Europe, would reflect the positioning of the Opel brand in relation to its rivals. Although he wouldn’t be drawn on exact pricing, Reilly said it would cost more the cheapest Corsa but less than the most expensive Corsa.
It has been conceived a four-seater, but a five-seat variant is under consideration. Initial sales will be for the three-door model, with a five-door variant set to follow. It is shorter than a Corsa.
Reilly described the car as “setting new interior standards”. Engines will mainly be four-cylinder units, all equipped with a stop-start system, although three-cylinder engines are also under consideration. Reilly ruled out fitting the car with a two-cylinder engine, but an electric version will be launched.
“Such as car would suit electric drive,” said Reilly. “With pure electric drive, it becomes easier the smaller the car because you don’t need such big battery as in larger cars. Electric drive won’t likely be available at first – but it’ll come as soon as it is possible.