new Vectra, the first Opel to use General Motors‘ brand new Epsilon platform,
will go into production on schedule next January in time for its public debut
at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show in March, Chairman and Managing Director Carl-Peter
Forster said at the Frankfurt Motor Show today, writes just-auto.com deputy
editor Graeme Roberts.

The car will be produced in a new, state of the art 1.5 billion DM plant alongside
Opel’s headquarters in Russelsheim, just outside Frankfurt. "The Vectra
will play a key role in the renewal of our product range," Forster said.

"Opel will renew the whole core model programme within the next five years
and we are also planning to introduce a host of innovative, segment-defining
products and variants, which will eventually make up 50 percent of our portfolio

Opel has just launched a new Combi – a high roof, passenger/cargo derivative
of the popular Corsa hatchback range – and will launch a commercial van version
in November.

At Frankfurt it is displaying a ‘Concept V’ version of the larger UK-built Vivaro
van (developed and manufactured jointly with Renault). This, Forster said, is
a study demonstrating how Opel sees a luxurious, high-tech mini-bus with six
leather seats, parquet flooring and infotainment systems including internet
PC and Sony Playstation.

Forster added that two sub-brands would be prominent in Opel’s future plans.
"Under the acronym ‘Opel Performance Centre’ (OPC) we will offer a wider
range of models to customers who enjoy sporty driving," he said. These
are likely to include the 220km/h 192bhp two-litre turbocharged Zafira minivan
displayed at Frankfurt, alongside prototype OPC versions of the Astra station
wagon and Cabrio with bright red leather ‘Linea Rosso’ interiors. These ‘design
studies’- industry-speak for production-ready cars given a public airing at
motor shows to gauge potential customer reaction before the final go-ahead is
given – were, according to Forster, "inspired by the Astra Coupe OPC X-Treme
concept first shown at the Geneva motor show last March.

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regional report: Western Europe

world’s car manufacturers: A financial and operating review (download)