The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes recently published an editorial on Opel’s turnaround, saying “General Motors’ long, dark night in Europe may be nearing an end.” The automaker has increased market share in both of the last two years, outperforming Europe’s overall car market as it grew in key countries such as France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
“We are over the barrier,” Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann told The Detroit News on the floor of the North American International Auto Show. “In the meantime, Opel is seen as the good guy. Opel is seen as a turnaround.”
Much of this growth has been enabled by parent company GM’s continued commitment towards Opel. Dropping the Chevrolet brand from Europe is evidence of GM’s commitment towards the company Europe, and backed up the decision by giving its European arm more executive attention and money.
“Opel has changed dramatically for the better with the new skilled leadership and a new company culture of fostering a habit of ‘winning’ instead of ‘losing,” said Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, Opel’s general works council chairman and deputy chair of its governing supervisory board, told Detroit News in an emailed statement.
Historically GM didn’t provide Opel with much support, however current CEO Mary Barra says Opel is a capable technical resource and an “a very important operation for the company.” She realizes how important the brand is for GM, unlike executives of the automaker’s past, and chose it as her first trip abroad as CEO to demonstrate this sentiment.
Detroit has given Opel $5 billion in order to produce 27 new vehicles and 17 new engines by 2018, and is already calling on the company to produce engines for its North American operations. GM is finally committed to making its European operations successful, and its hard work appears to be paying off.