Workers will get chance to make Vauxhall/Opel revival plan work: PSA boss

Carlos Tavares says UK Vauxhall workers at the Ellesmere Port factory and elsewhere must pull together to make PSA plans a success

British workers will be given every opportunity to show they can drive Vauxhall back into profitability according to PSA boss Carlos Tavares.

Speaking at an event in Paris to update the media on his company’s mobility plans, Tavares assured Auto Express: “Everybody will have a chance. We have to make money; we have a responsibility to our employees.”

• PSA Peugeot Citroen unveils next step in Push to Pass plan

Quizzed on the prospect of mass redundancies to streamline operations and make huge cost savings, Tavares continued:

“Our intention is to avoid this [a lot of redundancies]. If you look at Opel’s history, many jobs have already been cut. Did it fix the situation? No it didn’t. So we need to trust people. There is no taboo and no hidden agenda.

“But it can only work if everybody supports: The unions, employees, management, Government – all the stakeholders need to support. If they don’t we have the same results as before.”

And he reiterated again that Vauxhall cannot continue to make a loss. “Vauxhall is a brand that is warm to the heart of British customers and as long as we make money we are fine,” stressed Tavares. “We need to accept the changes we will have to do ourselves in order to make money. People are the solution. But do we need to move? Of course. The status quo is not an option.”

PACE! recovery plan plots bright future for Vauxhall/Opel 

Details of the Vauxhall/Opel PACE! recovery plan under PSA have been revealed. Vauxhall/Opel is aiming to become European electrification and CO2 leaders with every model featuring electrification by 2024, while the brands will aim to return to profitability by 2020 – the first time since 1999. 

The first new Vauxhall to arrive will be the new Corsa supermini. The new model is expected in 2019 with the Vauxhall Corsa EV on sale by 2020. Around the same time a plug-in hybrid version of the Grandland X SUV will go on sale, too.

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The new Corsa will sit on the PSA CMP platform – along with the Peugeot 208 and 2008 as well as the Citroen C3 and C3 Aircross, plus the DS3. However that means there will only be a fully electric model on the e-CMP platform – there will be no plug-in hybrid using CMP tech. That is because the combination of an internal combustion engine and EV is too complex to be accommodated in the type of low-cost platform PSA wanted for its small cars.

Michael Lohscheller, CEO of Opel/Vauxhall, also said that two other electrified vehicles will go on sale by 2020, with every Vauxhall and Opel model featuring some form of electrification by 2024. In total, nine new Vauxhall and Opel models will be launched by 2020.

New Vauxhall design language 

During the press conference announcing the PACE! plan, a new design language for Vauxhall/Opel was revealed, with Vauxhall/Opel chief designer Mark Adams working swiftly to adapt to the new PSA platforms. Lohscheller also confirmed that ‘Vauxhall will remain a true British brand.’

Vauxhall and Opel models will move to PSA architecture quicker than anticipated with the EMP2 platform for larger models and CMP technology being used for smaller cars. This also means a faster switch to PSA engines and transmissions and will all take place before 2024.

• PSA completes £1.9bn deal with GM to buy Opel and Vauxhall 

The total number of platforms used for Vauxhall/Opel products will be reduced from nine to two by 2024, with powertrain families going from ten to four. “Aligning architecture and powertrain families will substantially reduce development and production complexity, thus allowing scale effects and synergies, contributing to overall profitability,” said Lohscheller.

All Vauxhall/Opel models will be engineered at Opel’s base in Russelsheim in Germany, giving the cars what Lohscheller described as ‘German DNA’ and making them true Vauxhalls and Opels rather than Peugeot or Citroen clones. Russelsheim is set to become the group’s centre of excellence for everything from fuel cell technology to autonomous driving know-how.

One of the new body styles is almost certain to be a large SUV, not least because Vauxhall and Opel abandoned their own plans for such a vehicle - in effect, a rival for the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq - after PSA completed its takeover. The new Vauxhall SUV would share chassis tech and engines with the Peugeot 5008 and Citroen’s forthcoming C5 Aircross.

Profitability by 2020

Among all the new product news, Michael Lohscheller revealed that Vauxhall/Opel will aim to return to profitability by 2020 and that the UK plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton will be safe from closure. A lower financial breakeven point of 800,000 vehicles has also been set with cost savings of €700 per vehicle.

Lohscheller also promised improvements in quality, reliability and satisfaction in Vauxhall and Opel cars. In this year’s Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey Vauxhall came 23rd out of 27 manufacturers. The sales process is also set to become more digital as part of the new plan.

Ellesmere Port factory is safe

Lohscheller said that the PACE! plan is designed with the clear intention to maintain all plants and refrain from forced redundancies in Europe. “The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes,” he said. 

• Vauxhalls could be exported under PSA

PSA Group chairman Carlos Tavares is rumoured to have been so impressed with the Ellesmere Port plant that he decided to invest in its future within 24 hours of visiting it.

The Opel brand is also being lined up for further export markets going into 20 new territories by 2022. That will mean China and Brazil and possibly even into previous owner GM’s backyard of the USA.

What do you think of the Vauxhall recovery plan? Let us know in the comments...

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