The Russian operations of General Motors Co. will be integrated into GM Europe as part of efforts to support its Opel brand. Russia is expected to surpass Germany as largest new-car market in Europe within five years despite a recent slowdown in its economy, which is seen to lead to 5-percent fall in vehicle sales to 2.79 million in 2013.
Karl-Thomas Neumann, GM Europe President and Opel chief executive, said in a statement that the move is “the right decision at the right time.” He remarked that Russia is an important part of the European market, adding that for Opel, the country is the third biggest market in Europe. GM's Russian business is currently under GM International Operations based in Shanghai. The decision will mean that Russian sales of Opel, Chevrolet and Cadillac – all GM brands – will be consolidated at GM Europe.
Chevrolet is the fifth best-selling car brand in Russia, selling 127,742 units in the first nine months of 2013, reflecting a drop of 17 percent, according to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses.
Opel was the No. 12 brand with sales of 60,045 in the period, down 2 percent. Cadillac sales in Russia dropped 32 percent to 1,124 units. According to Neumann, Opel enjoys “high reputation” in Russia, and with their strong model portfolio, they want to clearly increase their market share in the country.
GM has named Andy Dunstan to manage its operations in Russia effective Nov. 1, 2013. Dunstan currently leads sales for central and eastern Europe and international operations. Dunstan will report to Neumann. The current head of GM's Russian business, Jim Bovenzi, will become executive director of global localization strategy.
“This is the right decision at the right time. Russia is an important part of the European market and for Opel it is the third biggest market in Europe,” says Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Chairman of Opel/Vauxhall and President, GM Europe. “All forecasts point out that Russia will become the biggest market in Europe in the next years. Opel enjoys high reputation in Russia. With our strong model portfolio we want to clearly increase our market share.” GM brands in Russia are Opel, Chevrolet and Cadillac. [source: General Motors]