Here in the US, there’s no trouble with overlap in markets when it comes to GM’s brands. In Europe, that isn’t necessarily the case, and GM CEO Dan Akerson knows that this is an issue.
All over the world, Chevy models are sold as affordable, reliable cars with plenty of variety to choose from. In Europe, the Opel brand is there to fill in the gap in the premium category above Chevy, but below Cadillac in terms of pricing (though Cadillac’s presence in the Old World is seemingly minimal). Unfortunately, European buyers have a bit of trouble differentiating between Opel and Chevy. “It is of concern to me,” Akerson told Automotive News. “Something has to change. I just think there’s channel conflict and confusion.”
Akerson states that this confusion reminds him of “retro GM,” where badge engineering was in style, along with bowl cuts. For the past several years, GM has tried to shift Opel a bit more upmarket, to help defeat the cannibalism of sales. “It is something we are going to resolve one way or another,” he says.
To make matters worse, the European market itself is riding the struggle bus. Chevy sales went down 19 percent through September, making for 112,452 sales thus far in 2013. To put the situation into perspective, GM has lost over $18 billion in Europe since 1999 and wishes to break even by mid-decade.