Parent company General Motors tried to sell Opel, but then thought better of it and decided to keep its German subsidiary. But even though Opel’s ownership situation as part of the GM family may be settled, the diminished scope of the GM empire means there’s much about the brand’s future that is still challenging.
In the course of the last few months, Opel has lost the Saturn connection, the admittedly sparse Saab synergy effects, and the Spyder derived from the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky. As if the situation was not yet grim enough, the brand is about to have its ties to Suzuki severed by Volkswagen.
“There are a few imponderables in our future product portfolio,” admitted Opel chief Nick Reilly recently. “We need to keep an eye on the Agila situation, we have a few issues to sort out in the light commercial vehicle department, and there are some powertrain questions we may not be able to answer all by ourselves. Among the items Opel may want to source jointly are new three-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, the electric motor for the upcoming minicar, and the next iteration of our hybrid offensive which starts with the Ampera/Volt.”
To rush the new Opel city car to market late next year, it will be based on the current Corsa, and it will in all probability be built in Europe. However, the battery-powered version due in 2013 may be assembled in China, where Opel intends to source low-cost batteries. In addition to the three-door version to be launched first there will also be a five-door variant.
In 2013, about one year after the debut of the Chevy Orlando, Opel intends to introduce a brand-new Euro-style compact crossover based on the Astra architecture. In 2011, we should see the next Zafira microvan, which also uses the global Delta platform. Perhaps as early as 2012, Opel will bring out the brand-new Astra cabriolet based on the sporty three-door GTC. A similar launch time is being predicted for the Corsa crossover.
With a bit of luck, we may even see a proper up-market Opel coupe before long. Known in-house as New Calibra, the striking four-seater expected in early 2013 shares its underpinnings with the Insignia. Trouble is, Opel needs to build about 30,000 units a year before the program starts making money. Comments a source from HQ: “We would feel a lot more confident about some of these projects if Buick, Chevrolet in North- and South-America, and Saab were sharing volumes and risk.”