‘Business as usual’ says Vauxhall chief 0
The recent Geneva Motor Show was meant to be a showcase for Vauxhall, a chance to bask in the excitement surrounding the brand’s latest releases, notably the Insignia Grand Sport, Sports Tourer and Crossland X SUV. Instead, all the talk was about the PSA takeover of Opel-Vauxhall, and what the future holds for the company’s workforce based in the UK.
The firm’s managing director, Rory Harvey, did his best to sidestep any media questioning about the takeover saying: “Vauxhall has a bright future,’ he says. ‘It’s a stalwart of the UK, and will remain so.”
The new cars are appearing at a timely moment for the company, UK sales fell by 13% last year. Harvey said that the current figures are not a fair reflection of Vauxhall’s overall health.
“The net loss is due to a shift in currency following the Brexit vote. It’s been a strategic decision; we’re selling fewer cars to rental fleets, and are doing less Motability,’ he explained. ‘The good news is an uplift in residual values.”
The company are looking to boost their retail customers too. The previous-generation Vauxhall Insignia sold 98% to business, and this will change. “We’re in no doubt, that the new insignia Grand Sport will still sell north of 80% to fleets, but the new Crossland and Grandland X are both very much retail cars, and we expect a very different percentage.’
“SUVs are doing great work for us. The Mokka, Crossland and Grandland X compete in segments that are growing significantly – I’m very excited by this.”
Harvey is staunchly supportive of Vauxhall as a UK brand.
“We’ve not looked at the idea of selling our cars as Opels for at least the nine years I’ve been here, and that won’t change.”
Whether UK retail buyers would look more kindly on the German badge has not been considered: “Does Vauxhall get a lift by being British? I’m not sure there’s a tangible uplift.”
The last Opel to be sold in the UK was the Manta, which went out of production in 1988.
Finally, the future of Vauxhall is yet to be mapped out, Harvey says, and we won’t even begin to see the beginnings of a PSA-led business plan for at least eight months.
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