GENERAL Motors CEO Mary Barra told Automotive News Europe that the company can re-enter the European market as a company focused on electric vehicles and that it has no seller’s remorse for divesting Opel and Vauxhall in 2017 to what was then the PSA group.
It remains unclear whether the move portends a larger-scale return to Australasia for GM, which is represented locally by General Motors Special Vehicles (GMSV) with a small niche product line.
A GMSV spokesperson told GoAuto that the organization is “focused on Silverado as well as the first-ever factory-built right-hand-drive Corvette.”
“There are no product-related announcements to make at this time.”
As GoAuto reported, the former GM brand Opel will return to New Zealand this year with a focus on electrification.
Speaking at the Milken Institute’s global conference in Los Angeles this month, Ms Barra said she was eager to see the Detroit-based company make a return to the EU, but did not say when. the world’s second-largest automaker would step in.
“About five years ago we sold our Opel business to what is now Stellantis, and we have no seller’s remorse of an internal combustion business,” she said.
“But we can re-enter Europe as an all-EV player, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ms Barra and Carlos Tavares, PSA’s CEO at the time of the sale and now head of Stellantis, engineered the $2.2 billion (A$3.13 billion) sale of GM’s European business after years of losses, reports Automotive News Europe.
The publication says Opel has returned to profitability under Stellantis through the integration of its development, production and back-office operations with those of group members Fiat Chrysler and PSA.
General Motors did not completely leave Europe after the sale of Opel, retaining its headquarters in Zurich and selling a number of Cadillac luxury models (mainly the XT4 SUV), as well as the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette.
According to JATO Dynamics, around 500 copies of each were sold in 2021.
But GM has signaled that it intends to play a bigger role in Europe again.
In November, he announced he was appointing Mahmoud Samara, a Zurich-based Cadillac sales director who reports directly to GM International president Shilpan Amin, as president and general manager of GM Europe.
“His mission is to transform our current operations into a non-traditional mobility start-up in the region. We will be making very deliberate decisions about where and how we compete in Europe,” a GM European spokesperson told Automotive News Europe.
The spokesman added that GM would release further details on its revamped operations in Europe shortly, saying the new technologies would provide the company with additional growth opportunities.
“Together with his team at our headquarters in Zurich, he (Mr. Samara) is preparing for this launch, leveraging new initiatives and technologies that GM provides for global growth opportunities.”
According to Automotive News Europe, Mr. Samara led much of Cadillac’s transition to electric vehicles.
Samara said the growth of the European electric vehicle market presents a significant opportunity for General Motors as it continues to roll out its portfolio of electric and autonomous vehicles, noting that GM is investing US$35 billion (49.72 billion Australian dollars) in electric vehicles and battery technology globally. .
“Over the coming months, our team will develop our plans to bring our best products and services to customers in Europe,” Samara said in a statement last year.
“Our activity will extend to the main European markets. We have big ambitions in Europe, as it is the second largest and fastest growing electric vehicle market (in the world). »
As GoAuto reported last year, GM’s main goal from a future product perspective is to offer electric vehicles (EVs) “in the price range” with an additional $7 billion (9, 15 billion Australian dollars) to invest in the development of electric vehicles. and autonomous vehicles in the next five years.
The bulk of the now $27 billion ($35.28 billion) investment will go towards advancing and developing the brand’s Ultium battery technology and upgrading key manufacturing facilities, including Factory Zero. in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee, to use internationally sourced materials.
GM has made no secret of its electrification plans in recent months, saying it would hit virtually every price point in every major segment to “bring an EV to every customer.”
The company says it aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 and eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035.