production capacity by 15% (300,000-350,000 units) by either closing a major assembly
plant [rumoured to be Antwerp in Belgium] or “resizing” several others are among
Opel’s plans to achieve revenue and cost improvements in excess of two billion
Euros over the next two years.
The details of the ‘Olympia’ project to return Opel to profit were
presented to the company’s supervisory board today by the new chairman
and managing director Carl-Peter Forster.
In a veiled reference to the closure of the Vauxhall Luton plant in England
and the axe apparently hanging over the Astra plant in Antwerp, Belgium, Opel
said in a statement that “the company’s evaluation of future market demand
and the matching manufacturing capacity planning have been reviewed and adjusted
so that Opel//Vauxhall can run at a higher capacity utilisation rate and operate
“In addition to measures announced at the end of last year, the overall
capacity of Opel’s and GM’s European vehicle manufacturing network will need
a further adjustment by some 15%, equaling 300,000 to 350,000 units, by the
end of 2003.
“In order to implement such a reduction, one major assembly plant would
need to be closed, or alternatively, several facilities would have to be resized.
Independently, every single GME manufacturing plant will have to take aggressive
action to further improve efficiency and productivity levels to reach world-class
“A subsequent impact on the company’s powertrain requirements cannot be
excluded, but further analysis needs to be undertaken in cooperation with the
Fiat-GM Powertrain joint venture company.
Opel plans to outsource specific stamping, tool and die, and component operations
and is also looking for an external partner for its facility management business
Major restructuring plans are also being developed for the sales and general
administration areas in Europe, leading to further reductions in salaried headcount
Other major initiatives of the revival plan include a strong emphasis on the
Opel brand, focusing on its German engineering heritage.
Opel also plans a revitalised product range which will includes various “expressive
special” models and new niche and segment-defining vehicles.
The German GM operation will expand the successful OPC and Eco sub-brands,
which cover sporty variants, such as the Astra OPC and the OPC X-Treme show
car, and the super-economical turbodiesel Astra ECO4. Opel will spend more than
10 billion Euros developing new vehicles over the next few years.
New advertising will be rolled out shortly with the aim of clearly distinguishing
Opel’s corporate and product communications.
A brand identity update (think badges, logos and dealership designs) will be
gradually implemented from the autumn while motor sport and sponsorship is also
Opel also plans to redefine its entire approach to selling vehicles.
Starting with the Zafira minivan this autumn, the company plans to aggressively
introduce a speeded up order-to-delivery system for its entire range of vehicles.
Customers will be able to take delivery of the vehicle they ordered to their
exact specification, with the dealer and Opel adhering to promised delivery
dates and significantly shorter delivery times.
Opel also plans to continue with e-sales, as indicated by the recently announced
Opel Webk@uf activity and AOL partnership. Similar activities are underway at
Opel’s sister company Vauxhall which is one of the leading manufacturer e-tailers
in the UK.
In Germany, Opel’s distribution setup will be restructured to improve sales
and service capabilities and strengthen the profitability of the remaining core
distribution network. Some aspects of the restructuring will be implemented
in other European countries.
Opel will also go after what it terms “downstream revenue opportunities”
– parts and accessory sales, financial services, leasing, infotainment,
and used car marketing.
The Olympia plan (named for a famous Opel model line-up discontinued in the
1970s) is also focusing on reviewing all key business processes in the company.
For example, the company is embarking on strengthening its supplier relations.
By partnering with the suppliers and involving them early in the design phase,
Opel wants to take advantage of innovative supplier ideas aiming at improving
quality, significantly increasing material cost savings and increasing innovation
in its vehicles. A similar strategy to work with suppliers on current products
is also being put in place.
“As we made clear at the outset of ‘Olympia’ a short while ago,
some difficult steps must be taken in order to address the company’s current
financial situation,” said Forster.
“But at the same time, tremendous emphasis is being put on initiatives
and activities to reposition Opel and GME for future success and growth. That
perspective makes it somewhat easier to make the sometimes painful decisions
that inevitably are part of such a turnaround situation.”
‘Olympia’ is currently being discussed with Opel and GM’s European
employee representatives before final decisions are made.