When GM bought the South Korean company Daewoo it decided to re-brand its models in Europe as Chevrolet. Many thought it a wrong move as the perception of the brand, although iconic, was of a big, thirsty American.
But putting the ‘bow tie’ badge on the small Korean cars is reaping dividends according the Browning, who is also vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales for GM Europe.
He said: “We were aware of what people were saying and there were sceptics in our own organisation. We are now selling 405,000 Chevrolet models a year around Europe and I can see that growing to 1m a year in the future. With new markets opening up in central and eastern Europe, as well as Russia, Chevrolet is the right brand at the right time.”
At the other end of the scale, Browning said that GM Europe had plans to develop its Swedish Saab brand.
“Saab is one of our greatest market opportunities in the premium car sector right around the world. We are finalising plans for its future and you will hear more about that soon.”
How about Cadillac which is struggling to sell in the UK and Europe? Browning said that it took time to develop a brand in the premium car sector, particularly in Europe where the competition is fierce.
He added: “Cadillac products will become more relevant to buyers in Europe and people will notice a difference when we launch the new CTS.”
Browning also told the Automotive News Conference in Prague that despite GM’s financial problems in North America, its European operation was back in profit. This was due to increased productivity and the painful process of reducing the workforce – including the closure of Vauxhall’s Luton factory.
“We sold 2m vehicles across Europe last year and we have some great new models coming which will maintain the momentum.”
Upcoming models include the Vectra replacement and a new Agila due early next year.