General Motors German operation Opel is to stop making the Omega sedan and wagon range, replacing it with an upper mid-range car to boost its market share, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper said, citing company sources.

GM Europe will replace current Omega (top) with new upper-mid-range model; Cadillac will develop replacement for US Catera version (below)

The newspaper added that Opel would save on development costs by developing the car jointly with other GM brands, including Saab and Cadillac.

GM chief executive Richard Wagoner has approved the step, the paper said, and Saab, GM’s premium European brand, is now developing a concept for the new car.

The Omega is one of the last of its type – a large luxury car sold in Europe as both an Opel and a Vauxhall by a maker not perceived by the market as a luxury car maker. Ford Europe dropped its rival Scorpio line-up several years ago, leaving its Jaguar brand to compete in a sector now dominated by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The Omega is also sold in the U.S. as the Cadillac Catera but the German-built car has not met ambitious sales targets. Recent reports from the U.S. have said that Cadillac will design and build a replacement model.

Welt am Sonntag said that Opel’s German ex-BMW chief executive Carl-Peter Forster, who succeeded American Robert Hendry at the beginning of April, wants to improve the carmaker’s image and increase sales.

Opel lost DM835 million ($US376 million) in 2000 while its market share in western Europe fell from 10.9 percent a year earlier to 10.2 percent.

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