GERMANY: General Motors’ Opel plans more performance models
To boost the image of its lineup, General Motors is expanding its range of Opel Performance Centre vehicles, reported Automotive News Europe. GM will extend its OPC high-performance package to include nearly all of its Opel models within the next two years.
"On the product front, we want people to take Opel seriously as a dynamic brand and we think we can convey that in more of our products," said Mark Adams, GM Europe's director of exterior design, during the press introduction of the Astra, Zafira and Vectra OPC vehicles.
Opel executives say the expansion of the OPC lineup will provide the image boost the brand needs. By creating halo vehicles for each model, Opel hopes to inject a dose of excitement into its cars while further distancing itself from quality problems that plagued the brand during the 1990s.
"In the public's mind, the brand image of Opel has become far too technical," says Arndt Ellinghorst, an auto analyst with Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Frankfurt. "They need to bring back more emotion and a stronger character."
Currently Opel offers OPC versions of its Astra lower-medium car and Zafira medium minivan. The third-generation Astra OPC and second-generation Zafira OPC models go on sale this month. OPC variants of the upper-medium Vectra five-door hatchback and Vectra station wagon will also expand the lineup this month.
Opel executives say GM will introduce an OPC version of its Meriva small minivan this year and Corsa small-segment car in 2007. The automaker is also considering an OPC version of its GT roadster and Antara GTC medium SUV.
The GT roadster will be imported into Europe from the US. Production is scheduled to begin next year in GM's Wilmington, Delaware, assembly plant.
The Antara GTC will be built by GM Daewoo in Korea with production starting in the fourth quarter of 2006.