Vauxhall is looking to cast off its image as a 'middle of the road' manufacturer with a stream of exciting new cars, according to its UK managing director Kevin Wale.
Due to be released at the rate of one every six months over the next five years, the models will be aimed at reviving one of Britain's biggest car brands and help it regain crucial ground lost in terms of desirability and image.
Revealed as the company begins centenary celebrations, Vauxhall's most ambitious product offensive so far has been planned to launch its second century as a provider of cars that are exciting as well as affordable, claims managing director Kevin Wale.
He said: 'Five years ago, we were riding high, but two years ago we found ourselves struggling because our products were not perceived as exciting. We've gained a reputation for being middle of the road, but that is no longer the case.
'We have listened to our customers like never before and really tuned in to their needs and got right into the heart of the British driving experience. Now we are planning exciting new cars that people can afford.'
In a review of its history, Wale said the General Motors subsidiary had made a total of 15 million vehicles and had its badge on one in every eight cars on the road.
He claimed: 'We now sell a wider range of cars and commercial vehicles in Britain than anyone else and have plenty to celebrate. Over the years, we have had great successes and at our best, we produced the most stylish cars in Europe.
'Many of these were design icons that made Vauxhall the most exciting company in GM. But there have been times when we have had the initiative stolen from us. We produced cars that were economical, sensible and environmentally friendly. These are all great qualities, but we focused so much on providing value for money that we lost sight of driving excitement.'
Asked about the current battle with Ford for UK fleet market leadership, Wale said: 'Our job is to grow our business and what Ford or anyone else does is up to them. We have the choice of either stagnating or going forward – and we don't want to stagnate.
'There isn't anyone competing in the mainstream segments who would not like to be number one, but moving forward gives us the opportunity of spreading our fixed costs better and that's what we will concentrate on in future. Wanting to be number one in the overall sales chart is a good aspiration because it makes you want to try harder. We know Ford is a couple of points ahead of us, but that's neither here nor there in the car industry and we're happy about where we are.
'If you have a good brand with products that are not seen to be exciting, pretty soon you don't have a good brand. I think we have learned our lesson.'