Vauxhall parent General Motors will unveil a Fiat 500 and Mini competitor next year which it believes will tap into the growing user-chooser demand for fashionable city cars.
Described by Alain Visser, GM vice president, sales, marketing & aftersales Europe, as an “iPod on wheels”, the Junior will be first seen at either Geneva or Paris motor show next year. It is due to go on sale in 2013.
“The Junior is a trendy car, but not a cheap car,” said Visser. “It will be a premium small car that will have potential with user-choosers. This is the fastest growing segment in Europe.”
Visser also confirmed plans for an Agila replacement sometime after 2014, although General Motors’s smaller model is likely to get a new name. It will no longer be a joint project with Suzuki, but will continue to be the value car in the segment.
Both cars are likely to continue the trend of ever extended options and specifications, a common complaint by fleets frustrated by the complexity.
Visser has some sympathy. Manufacturers, too, would like simplified production processes, referred to as ‘de-proliferation’.
However, it is being driven by the retail market where individualism on colours and specification is in growing demand.
“We hate long price lists and we want to simplify, but customers want to decide what their car looks like in al segments,” Visser said. “De-proliferation doesn’t fit in with this.
“Fleets want vehicles that have good re-sale values which comes down to what car the retail customer wants because it will be sold onto them.”
Visser also signalled a continued stifling by Vauxhall of short-term, high discount/low profit fleet business in the UK market.
“It is naive to say we will improve our market share in fleet with less discount,” he said. “The UK is very aggressive but we want to make our brand more attractive so less discount will be needed.”
The focus will be on leasing volume and SME sales. Growth is desirable but “not at the risk to business”.
Visser added: “It’s never been our objective to be a leader in fleet. The risk is being too focused on volume and not on good business. Our strategy for more than a year is to have a balanced business of rental, fleet and retail.”