Outgoing General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson is "optimistic" about Opel, its struggling European brand. Opel's market share surged in Europe for the first time in 14 years in 2013, Akerson said during a question-and-answer session at the Automotive News World Congress. GM President Dan Amman told the Congress that Opel was in its best shape after a long time, but is cautious that Europe remains a "very, very fragile" economy.
Ammann called 2014 as a "transition year" for GM's operations in Europe. Opel is expecting a modest increase in sales volume and market share in 2014. The European brand will launch a redesigned Corsa subcompact late in the year, to be followed by a redesigned Astra compact in early 2015 as well as by new families of gasoline and diesel engines.
Opel and its UK sister brand Vauxhall dropped 1.4 percent to 781,177 units in western Europe in 2013 in a market that fell down 2 percent, according to industry association ACEA. This gave the unit a 6.8 percent market share. In the wider EU and EFTA market, Opel/Vauxhall's share remains stable at 6.7 percent as it saw its auto sales drop 1.5 percent.
GM still eyes to end its loss-making ways in Europe by mid-decade. The new launches will help to push GM's operations in Europe back to break-even, GM chief financial officer Chuck Stevens said at a Deutsche Bank auto analyst conference.
Ammann told the conference that modest growth in the United States as well as China in 2014 would help GM finance about $1.1 billion in restructuring costs in struggling regions like Europe and Australia. He remarked that GM expects to "modestly" improve profit in 2014 with earnings increasing in the Americas while still being down in Europe and its international operations.