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General Motors Europe will invest a total of €9 billion into Opel through 2012, thus strengthening its core brand. €6.5 billion alone will be spent on the development of new vehicles and propulsion systems. In addition, the company is investing considerably into its German plants, Rüsselsheim, Bochum, Kaiserslautern and Eisenach. This was announced by GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster at a press conference in Rüsselsheim today. Forster also referred to the contracts for the future agreed on yesterday evening with the European employee representatives. These contracts guarantee the European Astra plants production capacity and capacity utilization.
GM Europe will invest €900 million into its new Rüsselsheim plant, which was put into operation in 2002. As of autumn 2008, Rüsselsheim will build a new generation of upper midsize vehicles, starting with the Opel Insignia. Bochum is granted investments worth €650 million to secure the facility’s long-term competitiveness and getting it ready for production of the next-generation Astra. “Opel Bochum has already made a big step forward and is an excellent example of how a long-established plant can regain its competitiveness by means of systematic restructuring and the great commitment of its workforce,” Forster said. Eisenach is granted investments of €240 million. Furthermore, the Kaiserslautern facility will not be sold as previously planned but will be expanded into a center of competence for component manufacturing with an investment of €50 million.
20 new models through 2012, extended-range electric vehicle
Hans H. Demant, Managing Director of Adam Opel GmbH, announced a comprehensive product offensive with 17 new passenger cars and 3 light commercial vehicles through 2012. In addition to the Insignia this autumn and the new Astra, it has also been decided that the next-generation Meriva with its rear-hinged doors (FlexDoor system) will go into production.
As with Insignia, the FlexRide mechatronic chassis system of which helps the car adjust to prevailing driving conditions, Opel is focusing on technical innovation in all vehicle segments, for example with Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL), new chassis functions for great safety in critical situations and with vehicle concepts that offer a high level of flexibility for different uses. For instance, Opel was the first manufacturer to offer the automatically adjusting lighting system also in smaller vehicle segments, such as Corsa and Meriva. “Opel is making the most state-of-the-art safety technology available to the majority of the market. This is an effective contribution to road safety,” Demant said.
In close cooperation with the GM Development Center in Warren, Michigan, U.S.A., the Rüsselsheim engineering teams are working on getting extended-range electric vehicles based on the E-Flex system ready for series production. This system allows a driver to travel 65 kilometers on electric power alone, enough to cover the average distance covered by daily commuters. For longer distances, a combustion engine, that serves merely as a power generator, recharges the electric power unit to achieve the range of usual midsize passenger cars.
Growth strategy for German market
Thomas Owsianski, Executive Director, Sales, Marketing & Aftersales, presented the growth strategy for the German market with which Opel wants to increase its sales volume and market share: In the medium term, Opel in Germany is striving to regain new-car registrations of 400,000 units and a market share of over 10 percent, Owsianski said. Opel new-car buyers in Germany will be granted a six-year warranty at no additional costs.
Under a program called “INNOVATION”, Opel currently offers vehicles in which innovative features such as adaptive forward lighting and dynamic navigation are combined in favorably priced packages. According to Owsianski, innovation will also be at the center of the communication campaign for the launch of the new Opel Insignia, “a car with sophisticated technology and groundbreaking design” that will compete in the upper midsize segment starting this autumn.
Substantial investments into dealer network
In Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin and Wiesbaden, Opel will work together with partner companies to expand dealerships into prestigious brand centers. Opel will spend over €100 million on over 2,000 projects together with the Opel dealers in order to speed up the modernization of the dealerships and achieve a consistent state-of-the-art appearance. In addition to the modernization of showrooms and dealerships, Opel continues to modernize the infrastructure of its dealers and service organizations.