Opel teams up with SAIC to sell its cars in China

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 24, 2012

For Opel to expand sales in China, it may decide to team up with Chinese automaker SAIC, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Opel has been in talks with SAIC about a sales partnership to sell and distribute its cars in China. Opel parent General Motors Co. has a joint venture with SAIC in China.

Handelsblatt said that Opel may increase the number of dealers in China that sell its cars to between 200 and 300 from 50 with the assistance of SAIC.

Two sources said that no agreement has been finalized and that there are several open questions with regards to finance. An Opel spokesman declined to comment on the report.

He said that Opel is concerned about export possibilities and China is “certainly an interesting market.” In early January, Kevin Wale, GM's head of China told Automotive News Europe, said that Opel predicts that it will have 500 more cars sold this year than the 5,000 units sold in 2011.

Opel offers three models in China. These are the Astra compact, Zafira large minivan and Antara SUV. For 2012, Opel will start to sell Insignia Sports Tourer station wagon and the Zafira Tourer minivan in China.

The German carmaker hopes to increase volume outside Europe as the eurozone crisis affects the region's car sales. However, GM is limiting Opel’s worldwide expansion and considers Chevrolet and Buick to be its main brands in China.

Opel has been known for its design language that mixes German precision and sculptural artistry with the first application seen in the Insignia. With the new Astra, the company is hoping that it will bring this unique design language to the compact class. While it does have the standard hatchback shape, the combination of a falling roofline in the rear, steeply-raked windshield, and the cab-forward profile adds to the visual excitement.

Helping with its new athletic appearance are the elegant details and the silhouette that gives a shape similar to a coupe. The new Astra also has improved stability and driving dynamics and this a wheelbase that is 2,685 mm long, an additional 71 mm compared to other models. Tracks have been increased as well, with the front track having an addition 56 mm and now at 1,544 mm.

Meanwhile the rear track has experienced an additional 70 mm and now measures 1,588 mm. Because this gives the Astra a wider footprint, it allows for a more stable handling and at the same time, better road-holding capability. Looking at its side, there is a dynamic inverted blade which aesthetically links the C-pillar to the rear window’s powerful movement.

At the rear section, the addition of the double wing-shapes on each of the lights in the rear guarantees that the Astra can be recognized at once. While the bodywork displays the company’s design language from the curved shapes, to the sweeping lines, and the quality of their execution, all of these can be observed in the interior as well. One example is the instrument panel, which comes with a wraparound wing shape that slowly arcs to the upper part of the door moldings.

This gives the occupants inside a sense of warm embrace. Already a rather welcoming atmosphere, this feeling of the interior is improved further during nighttime especially with how a red diffused light manages to light up the panels in the front door and the center stack’s base.

According to General Motors Europe Vice President of Design Mark Adams, it was important that each model to come out of Opel would have its own strong identity. With this in mind, he added, design cues like the blade and wings which help energize the Insignia’s form have instead been given a new interpretation under the Astra.

Topics: opel, saic, china

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