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First Look: Retro-Futuristic Opel GT Concept

Sports car prototype to share Geneva stage with Mokka X SUV.

by on Feb.18, 2016

The Opel GT Concept will make its formal debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

German-based Opel doesn’t have much visibility in the U.S. market, but it could generate quite a buzz here – as well as in the home European market – when it formally unveils its new GT Concept at the Geneva Motor Show early next month.

The original Opel GT, dating back to the 1970s, was one of the few – and last – models imported under that brand name, though Opel designs have since made it across the Atlantic and shared with sibling General Motors brands. The old Saturn Astra and the new Buick Cascada convertible are two examples.

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The new Opel GT Concept harkens back to the original 2-seat sports car concept, the Opel Experimental GT, of 1965. It was followed a year later by the Vauxhall XVR from Opel’s British twin. A production version went on for a five-year run, from 1968 to 1973.

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GM’s Opel Set to Offer a New Battery-Electric Vehicle

Will share platform of near-twin Chevrolet Bolt.

by on Feb.12, 2016

GM CEO Mary Barra with the Chevy Bolt, which is the basis for Opel's new EV offering, the Ampera-e.

General Motors’ European Opel subsidiary is set to get its first long-range battery-electric vehicle in 2017.

Speaking at an industry conference, GM CEO Mary Barra said Opel will launch the new Ampera-e in a bid to target a mainstream audience looking for longer range than current electric vehicles can offer.

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“Like its twin, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Ampera-e promises to transform the electric vehicle market in Europe as the first EV that combines long range at an affordable price,” Barra said. (more…)

Opel Keeps an Eye on Your Eyes

Prototype system uses eye-tracking tech to aim headlamps.

by on Mar.24, 2015

Opel wants to let your eyes aim your headlights.

Take a late night walk down a dark country lane and you’re likely to aim your flashlight precisely where you want to look. Imagine having a car that’s equally intuitive.

That’s the idea behind a new system being developed by Opel, General Motors’ European subsidiary, which uses an eye-tracking system to determine exactly where a driver is looking.

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“We’ve been pursuing this concept of controlling the direction and intensity of light based on where the driver is looking for around two years,” notes Ingolf Schneider, the director of lighting technology at Opel. “The more we understand the benefits of this technology, the more intensively we push ahead.”

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GM Slashing Presence in Russia

Opel to pull out, Chevy scaling way back in long-term shift.

by on Mar.18, 2015

Hello, we must be going. A GM Niva rolls down the Avtovaz assembly line. Plans for an updated car have been scrubbed.

General Motors plans to largely abandon the Russian market, a move that goes well beyond the short-term production cuts announced by key rivals like Ford Motor Co. in response to the economic crisis crippling the heart of the former Soviet Union.

GM’s German-based Opel brand will pull out of Russia entirely by the end of this year, while Chevrolet will scale back to focus on a handful of products such as the Corvette and Camaro. The maker will continue to market Cadillac products to Russia’s luxury buyers, but production will shift back to the U.S.

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“This change in our business model in Russia is part of our global strategy to ensure long-term sustainability in markets where we operate,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “This decision avoids significant investment into a market that has very challenging long-term prospects.”

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Opel Takes Over GM Europe Operations

New change brings focus on entry-level small cars.

by on Jul.22, 2014

GM folded its European operations in the newly branded Opel Group as part of its plans to return to profitability.

General Motors plans to make its European operations profitable are taking shape as the automaker has rebranded its European unit as the Opel Group and a renewed its focus on small, profitable cars.

The re-branding took effect July 1. The new organization is based in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and will also oversee Chevrolet’s operations in Russia and Cadillac in Europe.

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“Today, we are more than just Opel/Vauxhall,” Karl-Thomas Neumann, CEO of the management board of Opel Group, said in a statement. “With the Opel Group, we align our organizational and legal entity structure in Europe with the business operations. (more…)

GM Drops $750 Million on Opel Severance Plans

Maker spending about $165,000 per worker at Bochum plant.

by on Jun.17, 2014

The Bochum, Germany plant, which produced the Opel Zafira, is slated to close by the end of the year.

General Motors has taken a critical step in the restructuring of Opel by agreeing to spend $750 million on severance and retirement packages for 3,300 members of the IG Metal, the German metalworkers union.

Opel sits at the heart of GM Europe and the restructuring is necessary to end a string of losses that reaches all the way back to the late 1990s, GM officials said. GM Europe is expected to lose money again this year, but could finally post a profit in 2015.

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Representatives of Opel and IG Metall have negotiated an agreement for the approximately 3,300 employees at a plant in Bochum, Germany, which is due to shutdown permanently by the end of the year. (more…)

GM Pulls Opel Out of China; Will Play Larger Role in U.S.

New move in global brand realignment.

by on Mar.31, 2014

The Opel Adam S is not going to be available in China as GM is pulling the brand out of the country.

As part of a continuing global brand realignment, General Motors has pulled Opel out of China. The move comes barely a month after the Chevrolet brand was yanked out of Opel’s home market in Europe.

German-based Opel has been struggling to gain traction in China since entering the market there two decades ago. Even though GM is the second-largest manufacturer in the Chinese market – generating 3.16 million sales in 2013 – Opel’s 22 dealers sold a mere 4,365 vehicles there last year.

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But Opel won’t vanish entirely. Its product engineering operations will continue to assist in the development of new products for China – as well as for the U.S., Opel announcing it will produce a new model for Buick that will be exported to the States later this decade. (more…)

Barra’s German Trip Cements Opel’s Future

New product for Ruesselsheim reflects GM’s commitment.

by on Jan.27, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra traveled to Germany and confirmed the maker's commitment to Adam Opel.

General Motors’ new chief Mary Barra is spending the early part of her tenure reassuring the company’s European subsidiary, Adam Opel AG, that the U.S. maker is committed to Opel’s success.

Barra traveled to Opel’s headquarters in Ruesselsheim, Germany, to confirm that the company is committed to bringing the company back to profitability by the middle of this decade. Opel has been operating in the red since 1999, leading a number of key analysts to suggest that GM consider divesting itself of the subsidiary.

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“I thought it was very important to reinforce in person my commitment and GM’s commitment to Opel,” she said, according to the Associated Press. She called Opel “clearly a vital part of our company.” (more…)

Pushing the Design Envelope: GM’s Opel Takes a Leap with New Monza Concept

“We know we have to evolve," says Opel design chief.

by on Sep.12, 2013

Opel's Monza is a hint at the troubled European maker's future design direction.

It’s an old and familiar name for Opel fans and owners, but there’s nothing retro about the strikingly futuristic Monza that General Motors’ struggling European subsidiary has unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show – whether its sleek and curvaceous design or the hybrid-electric drivetrain under the hood.

Opel is rolling out an assortment of new products for the well-attended and influential Frankfurt show, including an update of its Insignia wagon. But the Monza is arguably the most intriguing and important of the introductions, even if it never makes it into an Opel showroom.

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GM has been bleeding ink in Europe since just before the start of the new Millennium.  It recently announced a controversial turnaround plan that includes the closure of a major German assembly plant. But the maker is well aware that it is product, not cost-cutting, that will make or break that plan.  The challenge is to come up with designs that can rebuild an otherwise stodgy and boring image and bring potential buyers back into showrooms.

“We know we have to evolve and this concept is a perfect fit for us,” said chief stylist Mark Adams, who described the Opel Monza as “a perfect blend of emotion and practicality.”

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Opel Speeds Up Restructuring, Will Close German Plant Early

GM takes advantage of union misstep.

by on Apr.19, 2013

An Opel Zafira body moves along the line at the Bochum assembly plant.

General Motors’ long-troubled Opel subsidiary plans to close an unneeded plant in Bochum, Germany by the end of 2014, a move that will come several years ahead of its original plan thanks to a major misstep by the powerful metalworkers union IG Metall.

The move could be critical as Opel moves to speed up a broad restructuring strategy aimed at capping what is likely to be a 15th year of massive losses that have led some analysts to call on GM to close or sell off its European operations.

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Opel is just one of a number of European makers aiming to rein in excess capacity at a time when the Continental auto market has sunk to its lowest level in decades – Ford, for example, will shutter two British facilities and a larger plant in Belgium in 2014. But the closure of Bochum, where 3,000 are currently employed producing models like the Zafira van, would mark the first time a major auto plant has been shuttered in Germany since the end of World War II.

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