Fleet News

Opel plans groundbreaking vehicles

OPEL'S European chief Carl-Peter Forster has highlighted problems facing the manufacturer in the European car market, and said it was placing a major emphasis on producing 'groundbreaking' new models.

Speaking at a workshop called 'fresh thinking, innovative car concepts from Opel', in Russelsheim, Germany, Forster cited its forthcoming Meriva and Signum as examples of 'innovative concepts'.

He said: 'I take great pride in being able to say that these two models break new ground when it comes to new ideas in the automobile business. This is the direction we must take in the future.'

Forster added: 'And this doesn't just apply to Opel. All of us in the automobile industry must radically change our thinking. Markets for conventional automobiles are saturated in Europe, and displacement competition dominates.'

On the success of the new Vectra, launched earlier this year, Forster said: 'The Vectra is coming along just as planned, even though conditions in the automobile market are by no means rosy.

'There is a clear degree of uncertainty in Germany, and in most other European countries, which has been caused by a number of factors.'

These include, he said:

  • The business community exercising restraint and a 'consistent stream' of bad news from stock exchanges.
  • The world's political situation that 'hasn't provided any grounds for optimism'.
  • Car deals becoming 'uncertain' in recent moths as a result of new block exemption rules.

    Forster added: 'What does this difficult environment mean for us? We're making good progress with our measures designed to increase efficiency despite these basic conditions.

    'In this way we'll be able to save about 10% on materials purchases in 2001 and 2002 without any compromises in quality. Here we have made good progress.

    'This is shown for example in the warranty costs per vehicle, which were reduced by 27% in 2001 compared to 1998. But, of course, it will take time before these measures are fully reflected in the numbers. The same applies to the repositioning of the Opel brand.'

    Forster added that the manufacturer 'has moved to a full attack'.

    'We are in the middle of a product offensive the like of which has never been before at our company. Within a five-year period to the end of 2005 we will have introduced 19 new models and model variants.'

    He added: 'Our innovative model range will change Opel's image on a continuous basis – and they should of course sell well. We set a high, but at the same time realistic, goal for ourselves.'

    Earlier this year, Forster used a conference in Sweden to call on its on its continental dealers to focus on fleet business as the manufacturer seeks a major strategic revision of its dealer network.

    Opel is in the process of reducing the number of its dealers and restructuring its network.

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