General Motors has decided to drop its Chevrolet brand in Europe by the end of 2015, according to vice chairman Steve Girsky. The move is part of GM’s bid to turn around its European operations and to focus its efforts on resurrecting the beleaguered Opel brand. GM said in a statement that Chevrolet will no longer have a mainstream presence in both western and eastern Europe due to a challenging business model as well as the difficult economic situation in the region.
Girsky said the decision is a win for all their brands in Europe and around the world as “GM will benefit from a stronger Opel/Vauxhall." He noted that dropping Chevrolet in Europe "will help us to accelerate progress in the region." However, some of Chevrolet’s iconic models like the Corvette will still be sold in Europe.
GM said that Cadillac is working on expanding in Europe in the next three years. Chevrolet will remain in Russia. Chevrolet sells only 200,000 units annually in Europe since it was re-launched in 2005. Chevrolet has concentrated on selling small cars like the Aveo subcompact and Spark minicar. GM Daewoo builds most of the Chevrolet units sold in Europe, exporting 186,000 vehicles to Europe from South Korea in 2012.
The decision to drop Chevrolet will affect GM Korea’s export to Europe. Park Hae-ho, a spokesman at GM Korea, disclosed that the company will phase out exports to Europe by the end of 2015. Chevrolet's deliveries in the EU and EFTA markets fell 17 percent to 152,260 vehicles in the first 10 months of 2013, enough for it to take a 1.2 percent share of the market. Opel/Vauxhall logged a 3-percent drop to 718,829 units, good for a 6.7 percent market share.
During a presentation at the Automobilwoche Congress in November, Opel chief executive Karl-Thomas Neumann remarked that Opel and Chevrolet should be further differentiated from each other and be developed separately in Europe.
He said that there is a lot of scope to improve the market positioning of both Opel and Chevrolet, adding that to better reach out to their respective target groups, the brands must be separated more clearly from one another.
Neumann's remarks were similar to those made by General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson. Akerson had told Automotive News Europe that he is already frustrated by the "confusing" overlap between Opel and Chevrolet in Europe. He compared the conflict between Opel and Chevrolet to "retro GM," when the carmaker’s market strategy in the US entailed overlapping brands.