“We have a new leadership team, a 10-year plan … and we have financing from GM in Detroit that not only allows us to cover our losses but also to invest billions of euros into new product,” stated Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann to a media scrum in Geneva.
Those are the words from a man who said he would not have taken the job if he didn’t believe that his executive team weren’t convinced that they could turn the troubled Opel brand around. And as a former Volkswagen AG executive, a company that records annual profits that make the rest of the industry blush, his word is not to be taken lightly.
Neumann and his executives are currently beginning Opel’s rollout of no less than 23 new or redesigned vehicles by 2016, beginning with the little Adam micro car and Mokka small crossover, both of which have proven to be hits out of the gate. The Cascada follows them, as will a restyled Insignia. The all-new Corsa is currently in development, as well, plus an all-new Antara. But new product is just part of the plan.
Neumann also made a point that Opel is looking to reduce costs, to the point where assembly plants such as Bochum will wind down by 2016, along with restructuring union labor contracts. There’s also the challenge of reshaping the internal culture at Opel, of which he criticized as being too complacent.
In 2012, GM Europe lost $1.8 billion, and more than $18 billion since the late 1990s. GM’s situation in 2009 in North America. Four years later, and things are much better than before. Hopefully the same will be said about Opel down the road.