POLAND: Opel/Vauxhall Cascada ‘will help rebuild image’
Speaking at the launch of production of the Cascada at the company's Gliwice plant in Poland, Girsky added: "Along with the new Mokka, these are important models in terms of re-building our brand image in Europe and there's more to come."
A lot more to come, in fact, as GM Europe plans 23 new or revised models and 13 new engines by 2016 under its 10-year Drive 2022 strategy aimed at returning the company to profitability by the end of the decade.
Driving the first Cascada off the line in Gliwice was one of Girsky's last tasks as GM Europe's top man as he hands over to new chief Karl-Thomas Neumann at the end of this week. The new model will make its public debut at the Geneva motor show next week.
He is confident that GME can pull of what he called "the biggest turnaround in European auto history" under its new strategy.
"We are currently rolling out some very exciting new products such as the Adam, the Mokka and now the Cascada. The Mokka is already a sell-out with orders for its first year of production while the Cascada and the new Insignia look dynamite.”
Regaining Vauxhall-Opel's image is also vital to the turnaround, said Girsky. That image has been tarnished in recent years by falling sales, bankruptcy of its parent in the US and rows with unions over factory closures.
He added: "We need to rebuild the brand image and get all the bad news with the unions out of the papers and start looking forward. We used to sell as many Astras as VW Golfs so we know we have the potential to do better."
There are, however, a number of challenges to be faced on the road back to profitability, said Girsky.
"The challenges we face are a further deteriorating industry environment and a stronger demand for smaller cars with smaller margins.
"The market in Europe is still very unstable and we haven't hit the bottom yet. France and Italy are really weak and Germany is really struggling with retail sales. Spain is stabilising and the UK is in good shape although the pound is weakening. So the UK and Russia are fine, everywhere else is a minus right now.
"The problem volume manufactures like us are having is that we are being squeezed from all sides, premium brands are starting to grow as are the budget brands. We are caught in the middle."
The next five years will be even tougher, he predicted, "because we have new manufacturers coming into the market as well, from China and from start-ups such as Tesla and Fisker."
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