Opel starts developing new flagship model

Article by Christian A., on July 22, 2011

Insiders say that Opel/Vauxhall has started to develop a new flagship model that will be launched at the end of 2016 or early 2017, according to a report from Automotive News Europe. Opel seeks to enhance its green image and will offer this car with alternative powertrains such as a fuel cell system. The report says that in Opel’s internal plans, its management board predicts to sell about 20,000 units annually.

The new model will be slotted higher than Opel’s Insignia midsized car. According to Klaus Franz, Opel deputy chairman and its top labor official, said the flagship has to be a "technological spearhead" for the brand with hybrid and fuel-cell propulsion systems and plenty of other revolutionary technologies.

Franz said that together with its Ampera electric vehicle, it has proven its capabilities and its assertion that it is more advanced than its rivals, and is in fact, two or three years ahead of anybody else. Franz said that the unions will urge that the car has to be produced in Germany.

He said that this project will get the full support of the workers’ representatives. He explained that as this flagship could only be assembled on the Epsilon 2 architecture with long wheelbase, it will do whatever’s necessary so that its car will be built at its Ruesselsheim headquarters instead of Mexico or another country.

Franz estimates that this model will have annual sales of 20,000 units in and outside Europe. He said that it isn’t likely that the flagship, dubbed as TOL (top-of-the-line) internally, will be launched before 2016 due to its other priorities.

Opel will still have to introduce a new minicar codenamed Junior, a new Astra-based convertible and coupe models and a small SUV.

Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke said last May that Opel was studying the potential of a new flagship model that would enhance the brand's image. He said that this car would be a crossover between SUV and station wagon, with an appealing design, high functionality and premium features.

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