The deal to buy Vauxhall / Opel in Europe by Magna from the beleagured GM is all but done and dusted. But we were surprised to learn that Vauxhall / Opel will not be allowed to sell cars in the US. Perfectly understandable why GM would want that but, considering how much stronger the product range of Vauixhall / Opel is than GM’s, it’s something of a surprise that Magna capitulated. Would Fiat have done so? Was that one of the stumbling blocks to a GM Fiat deal? Who knows. But news reaching us today makes that capitulation seem worse still.
It has been revealed that GM intends launching their own Hybrid – the Chevy Volt – in to Europe to compete with the Vauxhall / Opel Ampera. Which doesn’t seem too clever to us, at least from Magna’s point of view. We would have thought that even if they had to capitulate on the ‘No sales in the US’ point that they would at least have been able to agree reciprocation from GM. But apparantly not.
GM say that the Chevy Volt will not be the same car as the Vauxhall / Opel Ampera. It will be a much more ‘American’ version – softer, less well-equipped and looking more North American in style. And it is true that European car buyers do not warm greatly to American cars. But the market place is changing, and many people are looking more at cost than style when it comes to economy, and if the Chevy Volt is pereceived as just a cheaper option to the Ampera – in the same way a Skoda is considered a cheaper alternative to a VW – then sales of the Ampera could well suffer.
Seems an odd move by Magna, but a great deal for GM.