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Opel President and CEO Could Foresee Russian Reboot

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According to Karl-Thomas Neumann, the man in charge of General Motors in Europe, he could foresee the automaker eventually rebooting production in Russia.

Speaking with Automotive News Europe last month, Neumann, the Chairman of the Management Board of Opel Group GmbH and Executive Vice President and President of Opel, said that the move to build vehicles in Russia once again would likely be precipitated by the still-active dealer network that focuses on Cadillac and certain Chevrolet vehicles. It was noted, however, that Opel is not likely to return to the country any time soon.

“I would be very surprised if the brand we come back with is Opel,” said Neumann.

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General Motors closed down production at its St. Petersburg manufacturing plant last year during Russia’s economic meltdown, cutting off sales of Opel and non-premium Chevrolet vehicles in the process. Prior to shuttering, the factory was responsible for building the Opel Astra and Chevy Cruz.

Presently, the only Chevy models sold in Russia are the Tahoe, Corvette, and Camaro, all of which are imported. Prior to 2009, Opel was growing steadily in Russia by offering a mixture of affordable economy cars and new-luxury cars, but its sales volume declined precipitously thereafter.

Ultimately, with the new vehicle market shrinking, GM pulled the majority of its vehicles in March of last year. While the economy has not recovered to the degree where GM seems to feel comfortable with entertaining the idea of bringing Opel and Chevy back to Russia, Neumann confirmed that it has no plans to sell its shuttered factory, even as it continues to lay dormant.

“If we sold it, the gain would only be short term, and it doesn’t cost us much to keep it.”

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News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)