The Germans have always been industry leaders and because of that, they’d often receive criticism before compliments, especially in the aesthetic and design department.
For example, everyone went up in arms from the radical changes done to Munich’s Bavarian Motor Works thanks to former head of design, Chris Bangle. But as time progressed, people got used to the quirky looks and instead continued to focus on the near automotive perfection that the brand had to offer. Not to mention, throughout the last decade, we’ve seen a huge influx of cars that featured some BMW design trademarks such as the “Hoffmeister Kink” and the “Bangle-butt.” Now, General Motors announced that they too would be targeting BMW-styling options for its latest Opel models. Better late than never, eh?
After racking up a net loss of $14.5 billion since 1999, GM of Europe’s Opel brand was in as much distress as Detriot’s own iron was not too long ago. So after some corporate restructuring and restrategizing, GM in Europe is also continuously analyzing ways to reduce engineering and manufacturing expenses.
“They can’t price their cars like Audi or BMW,” said Thomas Stallkamp, principal of Collaborative Management, a U.S. consulting firm. “They’re like the Chrysler of Europe.”
In hopes to resuscitate the brand, GM is planning on investing nearly €11 billion by 2014 with hopes to make Opels more appealing to their markets. One of the methods Opel will be using is trying to offer high-tech options normally found standard on luxury automobiles in order to boost profits. And because Opel is by history, a German brand, the biggest challenge to increase profits is trying to compete with the offerings of Volkswagen, which currently has the strongest market share in Germany.
“The problem for Opel is that Volkswagen has deepened and widened its position in Germany,” said Garel Rhys, president of the auto industry research center at Cardiff University in Wales. “They’re really out of sight. Opel will have to increase penetration in markets like Italy, France and Spain and Eastern Europe.”
– By: Chris Chin
Source: Automotive News