GM CEO says Buick and Opel key to achieving mid-decade goals

Article by Anita Panait, on August 27, 2013

General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson has set a number of elaborate goals to achieve in the mid-decade -- trimming the carmaker’s losses in Europe, increasing profits margins in North America and improving sales in China – and he expects Opel and Buick to hold the key for achieving these ambitious targets.

Right now, GM is overhauling its operations in Europe that includes Opel and Vauxhall – shutting down an assembly site, trimming costs and introducing new models like the Mokka. GM is now leveraging Opel and Buick, a thing it has done in the past. The Buick Regal compact sedan is being sold as the Opel Insignia in Europe, with some minor differences.

The Opel Mokka is being sold in the US as the Buick Encore. According to Jim Federico, a GM executive director in product development, the Mokka and Encore are almost 90 percent the same, and share more components than the Regal and Insignia. This means that Buick and Opel are offering similar if not identical vehicles, suited to regional tastes.

Akerson remarked in June that they are bringing together the product development team closer, leading to synergies that would provide the carmaker more scale and cost savings. However, this move is facing one major challenge – a vehicle doing well in one region doesn't always pass regulations in another.

For instance, Opel's new Adam minicar and Cascada convertible are popular in Europe, but they were not engineered to meet U.S. safety requirements, Akerson said. He called this challenge as "probably the most complicated Rubik's Cube” within GM right now. GM sold 700,007 Buicks in China in 2012, and 180,408 in the US deliveries in the year. GM sold 1.1 million Opels around the world in 2012. Opel recently pulled out of Australia. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: gm, ceo, opel, buick

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