Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke was a very happy man here in Geneva. He had seen the company’s Ampera win the European Car of the Year award and he was also enthusing about parent General Motors’ recently announced alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
He was somewhat more guarded when the discussion turned to the future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant. There has been speculation from analysts that GM and PSA may have to close factories to reduce capacity in Europe.
Ellesmere Port is one name that has cropped up, so what did was his take on the situation?
“No decisions have been taken but everything is on the table and we are working with all the stakeholders including the unions to see how we drive the European business forward and return it to profitability.
“There are challenges and risks with any alliance but I believe the one GM has with PSA presents more many opportunities particularly in terms of purchasing, giving us more power in sourcing components and we can also plug into PSA’s logistics business Gefco.”
Other opportunities include the sharing of vehicle platforms and technologies including advances in environmental products.
He added: “Customers will expect reductions in fuel consumption and CO2. So why should every car company work on this independently when we can pool our resources and share the costs? It also gives us the opportunity to bring out more models because our investment costs come down.”
What are the risks? “Alliances and joint ventures have not always been successful in the past,” he added. “We have to make sure we understand what those risks are and this alliance is set up in a way we can help each other, not hurt each other.”