‘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 to resume production at Ellesmere Port site on 17 August
Vauxhall

Vauxhall to resume production at Ellesmere Port site on 17 August

Over 100 new safety measures will see production line at Astra facility restart next month
15 Jul 2020
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021
'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'
Opinion

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car
13 Dec 2020

Most Popular

'MG's sales must rank as the success story of the year, possibly the decade'
MG 2020
Opinion

'MG's sales must rank as the success story of the year, possibly the decade'

Mike Rutherford says plenty of big car brands could learn from MG's focus on cheap cars
17 Jan 2021
Brawny new Ford Ranger MS-RT launched
Ford Ranger MS-RT - front
Ford Ranger

Brawny new Ford Ranger MS-RT launched

Ford’s long-standing aftermarket partner, MS-RT, has launched a tweaked version of the Ranger with an aggressive body kit
18 Jan 2021
New 2022 Smart electric SUV to rival Peugeot e-2008
Smart SUV - front (watermarked)
Smart

New 2022 Smart electric SUV to rival Peugeot e-2008

The new Smart SUV will use an electric platform developed by Geely and our exclusive images preview how it could look
18 Jan 2021