Could Opel Be Returning to the U.S. Automotive Market Soon?
If all goes according to PSA Groupe's plan, there will be nothing preventing the Opel brand from being sold in the United States
While the Opel brand experiences respectable sales in the European market, it has been decades since a new vehicle carrying the Opel nameplate has been sold in the United States. Now that General Motors has handed over ownership of Opel to PSA, that might all be set to change.
Indeed, Opel’s new CEO Michael Lohscheller declared that the brand will enter 20 new markets by 2022. The U.S. might very well be one of those markets.
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The last time that Opel vehicles were sold in the U.S. was back in 1975. Even then, Opel models were merely sold through Buick dealerships as import options.
That doesn’t mean GM didn’t tap into the resources that Opel provided in the following years. Models like the current Buick Regal and Buick Cascada are actually rebadges of models like the Opel Insignia and Opel Cascada, respectively.
When GM finally did hand over ownership of both Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Groupe earlier this year, the deal included a non-compete clause. Due to this clause, PSA could not sell Opel and Vauxhall vehicles that utilized GM’s architecture in markets where GM vehicles that used the aforementioned architecture were sold, like China and the U.S.
However, PSA has found a way around this obstacle. The automotive company is currently working to transfer all Opel models to its CMP and EMP2 platforms.
By 2020, the process should be complete, allowing Opel to enter markets where GM vehicles are currently sold. Lohscheller mentioned expansions into the Argentinean, Saudi Arabian, and Taiwanese automotive markets, with possible future expansions into China and Brazil.
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Although the U.S. itself was not mentioned on that list, Opel’s labor leader Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug indicated that soon, nothing will stand in the way of Opel reentering the U.S. market, alluding to the German brand’s return stateside. Even if plans aren’t currently in place for Opel to reenter the U.S. automotive scene in the near future, PSA has already launched an initiative to enter the North American market, naming former Nissan executive Larry Dominique as the senior vice president of PSA North America.
GM obviously believed that Opel would not perform all that well in the United States. Still, it will be interesting to see how the brand potentially fares in the American automotive market under new management.
News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)