Opel and Vauxhall are preparing a barrage of 27 new models and 17 new engines in the next four years in a bid to stop the slide and return to profitability, the chief executive pledged today.
Karl-Thomas Neumann said he hoped to increase its European market share to 8% by 2022, from the current 5.8%, by focusing on small cars and using the global reach of the GM family and its technology. If successful, that would mean becoming the second best-selling brand here.
A slew of new models and a €4 billion cash injection pledged last April by parent GM will fuel this seemingly ambitious turnaround. But many will still need convincing. After all, we've heard GM make similarly bold claims before.
GM Europe's plans: a new Corsa and 26 other new models
One of the crucial new cars being launched first in Europe is the 2015 Corsa. It uses a development of the existing Corsa architecture and will feature a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine which can be turbocharged to produce 113bhp, as well as other small turbos already seen in the group such as a 99bhp 1.4.
It's telling that Vauxhall/Opel have gone it alone on the important supermini project, rather than tying up with former bed-fellow PSA, from whom it is disentangling itself.
'To be really profitable you need to use a global platform,' Neumann told Reuters. In the past, Vauxhall and Opel have often resorted to partnerships with companies such as Suzuki to manufacture its smallest cars.
The chief exec also hinted that the company's European MPVs such as the Zafira and Meriva would have to become closer conceptually to SUVs to keep up with customer demand, and admitted that a smaller car below the Adam could be viable.
Why GM Europe is in trouble
Neumann plans to return Opel to profitability by 2016. 'I have a lot of confidence about achieving our interim goal,' he told reporters, listing improved factory capacity, the closure of Germany's Bochum plant and greater sales.
GM Europe has posted more than a decade of red ink, but the latest 2013 results revealed the losses had halved.
Neumann acknowledged poor management in the past had held Vauxhall and Opel back. Now Opel and Buick are being more closely allied, the former focusing on sales in Europe while the latter targets the US and China.
'For the company as a whole it is an opportunity to implement deep seated change,' he said. 'Currently the structures are being adapted to ensure that people can't take short-cuts in the future.'