‘Now it’s free of GM, Vauxhall must find its own niche’

Mike Rutherford says that after escaping GM, Vauxhall could replicate Jaguar’s post-Ford era success

Loved-up Peugeot and Opel have finally done the decent thing and consummated their marriage. There’s no doubt that the former is the stronger and more secure partner. But their respective siblings – Citroen and DS on one side, Vauxhall on the other – apparently gave it their blessing, so all five can now look to work together as one big happy family.

But the harsh truth is that they have too many factories, design centres and offices in too many countries. It’s inevitable that the PSA Group will close some. Remember Ryton (Peugeot), Longbridge (Rover) and Dagenham (Ford)? They were entirely or largely murdered as car-building venues.

PSA completes £1.9bn deal for Vauxhall and GM

Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port and Luton factories are safe for now, but they’re bound to come under scrutiny in the early 2020s. Their workers must continue to prove they’re at least as talented, hard-working and as cheap as their new colleagues.

Another issue is that the colossal Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, Vauxhall clan occupies a narrow window in terms of product diversity, price and appeal. There’s an awful lot of modest, small to medium family cars that clash with each other. At the very least the group needs a budget brand (Citroen?), mid-market mainstay marque (Peugeot), a premium contender (DS, potentially), plus a separate exec car division to take on Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar (something a brave Opel might try).

That leaves Vauxhall to find its own niche. For starters it needs subtle and tastefully designed ‘crafted in Britain’ badges and Union Jack flags fixed to every vehicle it builds to exploit its genuine Britishness – a quality that’s appreciated in Asia and North America.

But the type of vehicles Vauxhall has to base its future on? That’s impossible to answer at this point. Quintessentially British sports cars (think VX220), 4x4s and EVs are possibilities. Why not? Jaguar thrived when it finally shook off Ford; Vauxhall might do the same now that it’s escaped from General Motors. Speaking of GM, it let Saab and Daewoo sink in recent years; at least it sold on Opel and Vauxhall. Dongfeng, the Chinese part owner of the PSA Group, got a bargain at around £2bn.

This is further proof that the Chinese have a great and diverse motor industry future and the Americans less so. Who’d have thought it? Communist China – champion of the capitalist car world.

What do you think Vauxhall’s future will look like? Have your say in the comments section below.

Recommended

Vauxhall offers 30,000 miles of free charging with EV models
Vauxhall Corsa-e - cornering front
Vauxhall

Vauxhall offers 30,000 miles of free charging with EV models

Vauxhall extends 3-year/30,000 mile charging deal as part of wider EV push
12 Aug 2021
Stellantis confirms Ellesmere Port’s future as Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen electric van factory
Ellesmere Port - Stellantis
Vauxhall

Stellantis confirms Ellesmere Port’s future as Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen electric van factory

Vauxhall’s new parent company, Stellantis, will spend £100 million to convert former Astra production line over to electric vans
6 Jul 2021
New Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD gets 145bhp and 124-mile range
Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD - front
Vauxhall

New Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD gets 145bhp and 124-mile range

Specs for the all-electric Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD have been revealed, although the German brand has no plans to put it into production
18 May 2021

Most Popular

Best electric cars to buy 2021
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
19 Oct 2021
New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch
Michelin Uptis
News

New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch

The new airless Michelin Uptis is made from rubber and fibreglass and promises to be longer lasting, fuel-saving and recyclable
20 Oct 2021