GERMANY: Opel looking to reverse sales slide

By Tony Lewis | 7 June 2012

It’s more than seven years since Opel last had more than a 10% share of its home market and it wants to get back there, sales chief Imelda Labbe said in an interview this week.

"Upcoming models will allow us to occupy segments where Opel so far has not been present. We will then have the necessary products in the showrooms to crack the 10% market share ceiling in the mid to long term," Labbe told the Reuters news agency.

Those new models include a saloon [sedan] version of the Astra, due to debut in September, the Mokka subcompact SUV in October and the Adam city car early next year.

CAR, the centre for automotive research in Duisburg, estimated that Opel’s market share was 5.8% when tactical or self-registrations – used to help massage sales figures - were stripped out, according to Reuters. Opel’s tactical registrations were estimated to be as high as 42% of total sales.

But Labbe played down the significance of these. “Over a third of all new cars in Germany are registered either by rental companies, dealers or the manufacturers themselves," Labbe said. "It's a sales tool for every manufacturer. Overall we do not intend to engage ourselves any more heavily than our competitors and we are not buying market share," she added.

"May was a good month for us. Official data shows our market share rose (over April) to 7.9% and currently we expect this to improve further."

Part of that has been the success of the new Zafira Tourer MPV which nearly doubled Opel’s share of that segment to 20% in the first four months of this year.

The Zafira is built at Bochum, a plant that many observers expect to be earmarked for closure when Opel presents its long term strategy at the end of this month.