Could General Motors (GM) be planning to close Vauxhall down for good as they seek an answer to huge losses in Europe.
That US bailout has seen GM return to profit in the US, but GM Europe continues to be a big hole in its accounts as the European car market continues to struggle with over capacity and a lack of buyers for traditional mainstream cars.
A partnership between GM Europe and Peugeot Citroen (PSA) seems to be on the cards with a new joint venture taking on board PSA and Opel. But does that joint venture include Vauxhall, or are GM considering shuttering Vauxhall for good?
Vauxhall (and Opel) are always going to struggle in the new world market for cars, hamstrung as they are with a parent, GM, which won’t let them compete in certain markets – the US, notably. Which leaves GM Europe able to play only in struggling markets and incurring seemingly never-ending losses for its parent.
Perhaps the biggest sign that GM are planning to close Vauxhall for good comes with the recent news that Chevrolet are to sponsor Manchester United to the tune of £375 million from the 2014 season, a huge amount of money which, if GM were planning to keep Vauxhall, would surely have been spent promoting Vauxhall?
Also a factor in the ‘Sale or Close’ question about Vauxhall must be a desire not to go the same route with Vauxhall as GM did with Saab. The sale of Saab became a farce as GM blocked its sale to any car maker with Chinese connections, fearing its technology would be used to compete, and Saab ended up as just a badge for a new EV maker.
The simple act of closing Vauxhall for good and pumping a chunk of money in to a new company building Peugeot, Citroen and Opel cars would free GM from its European problems in one fell swoop, and give the new Joint Venture the immediate advantage of an immediate cut in production capacity.
Perhaps Vauxhall buyers in the UK ought to get use to the idea of a Chevrolet instead. After all, they’re the same under the skin.