If it succeeds in purchasing General Motors’ European Opel-Vauxhall unit, PSA Group will embark on a bold engineering operation to redevelop core Opel models using its own vehicle architectures, powertrain and technologies.
According to PSA advisors speaking to Reuters, the first model to get the PSA treatment (should the company’s bid to acquire Opel prove successful) will be the next-generation Opel-Vauxhall Corsa family of B-segment small cars.
The plan was reportedly outlined by PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares at the firm’s most recent board meeting last Wednesday. Placing the Corsa range on the same platform as the Peugeot 208 and Citroen C3 vehicles will unite small car programs under one architecture, something PSA and GM resolved not to do when setting out the joint vehicle development programs, shortly after forming a looser alliance in 2012.
Under GM’s ownership, Opel has already started developing the next-generation Opel Corsa and Mokka, which represent roughly 40 percent of GM Europe’s sales volume. The Corsa and Mokka are being developed on a common architecture, most likely on GM’s G2 platform, and are scheduled to launch in 2019.
This timeframe poses a challenge for PSA, as it leaves the automaker with little time — just two years — to re-engineer the Corsa on its own architecture and with its own technologies, an important step in cutting costs by not paying licensing fees to General Motors on existing vehicles while also giving it the ability to move Corsa and Mokka production to its own facilities, if it deems fit. The standard time to develop a vehicle such as the Corsa is approximately three years.
PSA has two primary alternatives to redesigning the Corsa and Mokka in a record, two-year period. First, it theoretically could set up a deal where production of the current, GM-developed Corsa and Mokka continue for an extra year, and wait until PSA’s next model cycle comes around in 2025 to fully redesign the two vehicles using its own platforms and tech. Doing so, however, will likely result in PSA paying prolonged licensing fees to GM, which doesn’t line up with the French automaker’s bid to reduce costs.
Tavares declined to provide details of possible PSA-Opel vehicle programs last Thursday as he presented record PSA earnings to reporters and analysts, instead underlining that the acquisition of Opel has yet to be agreed upon with GM.
Other vehicles within the Opel portfolio include the C-segment Astra and the D-segment Opel flagship, the Insignia. Available as a four-door hatchback and four-door wagon, the current-generation Astra went on sale in 2015 and isn’t scheduled to be replaced until 2021. Meanwhile, the Opel Insignia is all-new for the 2017 model year. Set to be available in four-door sedan (Grand Sport) and four-door wagon (Sport Tourer) body styles, the new Insignia is launching across Europe as we speak and will have its public world debut at the 87th running of the Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off March 7.
PSA Group, which markets the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, is in advanced stages of negations to buy General Motors’ European operations, Opel-Vauxhall. Informally known as Opel, the unit consists of the Opel brand, which is sold all over Europe except for the United Kingdom, as well as the British Vauxhall brand, which is sold exclusively in the U.K. The two firms are reportedly looking to finalize negations by March 1, prior to the start of the 2017 Geneva International Auto Show.