Opel could become full electric brand as PSA prepares to reveal restructuring plan

12 September 2017

12 September 2017

PSA Group will present its restructuring plan for the recently acquired Opel brand in November 2017, which could include an electric vehicle (EV) strategy while also highlighting the future of sister brand Vauxhall.

The French manufacturer group has suggested it will support Opel to introduce electric cars but the switch must be profitable for it to be successful, PSA CEO Tavares told German paper Bild am Sonntag. The company was exploring introducing EVs under its General Motors ownership, and could even have gone as far as turning into an electric only brand. 

′If it works and companies can be profitable that’s good. But if it does not gain acceptance in the market, then everybody: industry, employees, and politicians have a big problem,’ Tavares told the paper.

′We as PSA will make the technology available to Opel to pursue further electrification. If Opel wants to become a fully electric brand someday, we’re ok with that, providing it is profitable,’ Tavares said in a joint interview with new Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller.

Electric cars need to be accepted in the market without any subsidies, Tavares said.

Meanwhile, the group’s plan for the Opel brand will highlight how the company will be able to save money, following Q2 losses of around €210 million. Tavares, speaking at a press conference during the IAA show in Frankfurt, said PSA will urge Opel to improve its sales to individual customers, while it is also hard to decide on a strategy for the Vauxhall brand given the lack of clarity over Brexit.

It has been suggested that the next generation of the Opel Astra, built at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port in the UK, could be moved onto PSA production lines within Europe, which would save the company money by utilising production lines for similar size vehicles, while also removing any tariffs that may be added to vehicles built and exported from the UK.

PSA is also considering moving the production of electric vehicle components back to within the company, its strategy head, Patrice Lucas, said,

′We are having some thoughts regarding ‘make or buy’ concerning the electric chain of motors. We will move the components part back to within the company, but not the battery chemicals part,’ Lucas said at the Frankfurt auto show.

Meanwhile Daimler has announced that its Smart brand will be an electric-only vehicle company from 2020 onwards. CEO Dieter Zetsche announced the move, stating that the manufacturer will become the first to switch from conventional engines to pure electric, unlike companies such as Volvo which will be moving to both electric and hybrid only from 2019. This will also aid the Mercedes-Benz brand, which will feature around 50 electrified models from 2022.

Photograph courtesy of Opel