PSA names Michael Lohscheller as new Vauxhall and Opel CEO

PSA names Michael Lohscheller as new Vauxhall and Opel CEO

0 comments 📅16 June 2017, 08:30

New boss replaces Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann up ahead of closure of £1.9bn PSA purchase from GM

PSA Group has appointed former finance chief Michael Lohscheller as the new chief master of Opel and Vauxhall, ahead of the French group’s full acquisition of the two brands from Customary Motors.

Lohscheller replaces Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann, who sat at the helm for four years following his election in 2013. 

“We fully support the decision to appoint Mr.Lohscheller who will be surrounded by Opel’s superior talents to bring Opel/Vauxhall to new horizons for the benefit of its employees, customers and partners”, said Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Committee of the PSA Group. 

According to Reuters, outgoing boss Neumann will stay on Opel’s scantling until the closing of the deal between PSA and GM.

Neumann had previously said Vauxhall disposition need to refocus its positioning to flourish under its new ownership.

PSA Peugeot Citroen announced on the eve of the Geneva elucidate earlier this year that it has acquired GM’s European arm Opel/Vauxhall in a grapple with worth £1.9 billion.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Express at the show, Dr Neumann said that Opel is extra along its path to profitability – and that Vauxhall needs “more attention and a clearer positioning”.

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“There are innumerable changes in the British market – mainly the move towards premium or luxury brands,” he said. “So Vauxhall has to be clearer in what it stands for. But that is something where PSA has the highest cut that we proceed on our path and don’t mess around. Some people ask me, ‘Will all your cars from now on look like French cars?’ And the rebutter is no, of course not – because that is the whole thing with this deal. It’s British cars or German cars – and it’ll hamper like this.

“You can see it here at Geneva with the Crossland; it’s a true Opel/Vauxhall, not a repainted Peugeot or Citroen. And all parties possess the highest interest that it stays as such.”

The merger makes PSA the second largest car marker in Europe; with a retail share of 17 per cent putting it behind only the VW Group. Globally, PSA sold 3.5 million cars conclusive year compared with the Opel/Vauxhall brand’s 0.8 million. The trade is expected to be completed by Q4 2017. 

Vauxhall boss Rory Harvey told Auto Put at the Geneva Motor Show that “the mood is optimistic, but I would say that there are puzzle marks [about the PSA deal]”. However, he said he was not able to elaborate on those comments, as negotiations were serene ongoing.

Harvey wouldn’t comment on the future of manufacturing in the UK, but did say that “It’s a core division of our DNA that we are a British brand with factories here… That’s a essential part of our selling cars in the UK.” 

Speaking about a 13 per cent drop in new car registrations definitive month, Harvey told us that thanks to the devaluation of the pound, Vauxhall purpose do 20,000 fewer rental sales, 5,000 less motability units this year and there are a team a few of strategic fleet accounts that we will not do this year.” He did suggest that new SUVs that are coming out this year, all based on PSA platforms, would succour boost sales.

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General Motors chief leader officer Mary Barra said “We are very pleased that together, GM, our valued colleagues at Opel/Vauxhall and PSA include created a new opportunity to enhance the long-term performance of our respective companies by edifice on the success of our prior alliance”. At a press conference held in March, the GM CEO added that the jumble sale had been a “difficult decision for General Motors” but ultimately the right one.

PSA and Opel/Vauxhall: collaboration and economies of escalade

Regarding the relationship of GM and PSA going forward, Barra revealed that the two companies could work together on electric vehicle and fuel cell vehicle technology, sharing the investments GM has made in partnership with Honda. 

By 2026 the mete out could help PSA make annual savings of £1.47 billion – a proportion of this expected by 2020. Manufacturing, purchasing and R&D are the key areas where costs can be cut. PSA has promised to admiration existing job guarantees at Opel and Vauxhall, though, securing jobs at least until 2021.

Vauxhall to endure a “true British brand”

Speaking on the announcement of the deal, Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said Opel would take broken even in Europe in 2016 if not for Brexit. Regarding Vauxhall, he said that regardless of the administer it would remain a “true British brand”. 

Carlos Tavares previously met with Opel Vauxhall’s European Works Congregation to discuss job guarantees and labour agreements. In a statement, the PSA Group said: “PSA Group reaffirmed its commitment to admiration existing agreements in the European countries.”

Tavares has also since met with UK’s Merge union boss Len McCluskey. The union boss said: “It was a relatively positive primary meeting in which Mr Tavares gave assurances that current production commitments would be met.” 

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However, McCluskey added that while Tavares “talked in terms of not being here to switch plants”, there were still other issues, like pension plans that needed clarifying subordinate to the new ownership. Tavares was said to have made similar commitments to the UK’s prime missionary, Theresa May, whom he had a telephone conversation last week. 

Vauxhall jobs inferior to PSA

In the UK, the job guarantees imply that the production of the current Vauxhall Astra at Ellesmere Mooring would be guaranteed until 2021 and the Vivaro van in Luton would be secure until 2025 – after which the followers will decide where to produce the next generation vehicles.  

Accepted Motors Europe has nine plants in Europe, but despite reassurances from PSA that all intention remain in operation under the French carmaker’s ownership, experts still put one’s trust in that for PSA to make a profit from the acquisition it would have to cut jobs and development in Europe – which they state is at overcapacity.  

John Colley, a professor at Warwick Obligation School said PSA has “little choice but to close the UK Vauxhall plants to make the Opel gain work,” as the cost of cutting jobs at the German plant would be far higher. 

Come what may, not all share such pessimism. Garel Rhys, professor of motor industry economics at Cardiff Task School told Auto Express that Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port and Luton plants are some of the most thrifty in Europe, and PSA would surely value this over any uncertainty associated with Brexit, or other geographical factors. 

UK’s biggest combination asks Government to guarantee jobs 

The UK’s biggest union, Unite, has called for the Supervision to grant Vauxhall similar post-Brexit assurances it promised Nissan, which prompted the Japanese carmaker to go on production at its Sunderland site, protecting over 7,000 jobs in the process.  

Wed boss, Len McCluskey met with Business Secretary Greg Clark and asked the Sway to guarantee Vauxhall similar assurances in order to protect jobs at the two UK plants. McLuskey said: “The worthy thing for us is to get the Government engaged so that we can defend British jobs.” Clark has since met with PSA executives and promised the Regulation’s “unbounded commitment” to protect jobs at Vauxhall. 

PSA – the group behind Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars – already has dealings with Opel and is currently supplying the GM stamp with components. For instance, the upcoming Vauxhall Grandland X – a new C-segment SUV headlining Vauxhall’s SUV prosper – will sit on a PSA platform. It’ll get the EMP2 architecture underpinning the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 models, and could affair be built at Peugeot’s factory in Sochaux, France, alongside those two models. 

Dissection: who stands to gain what from the PSA/Opel deal?

General Motors and PSA claimed at the force conference announcing the sale that the deal is a ‘win-win’ for both companies. But how can this be so?

GM’s plight is relatively simple: the firm gets shot of a division that has failed to manufacture any money since the turn of the millennium. And it rids itself of uncertainty over how its European set-up could and would trade post-Brexit. This, in turn, will allow GM to focus on areas where it can see actual opportunities for ‘straightforward’ growth: its domestic market, the United States, and China.

PSA’s rationalization is more complex. It’s hard to see how it will have need of the new structure’s 24-odd factories across Europe – not least because Opel’s and Vauxhall’s plants acquire had spare capacity for years. But there are potential gains in even greater economies of raise, as PSA stretches components, platforms, engines and transmissions across an even wider stretch of models.

Perhaps the most significant reason is that the deal could suffer PSA to stop being a ‘French car company’ and start being a European one. Buyers in Germany or eastern Europe who barely refuse to consider even the idea of a French car may soon be offered Opels containing absolutely a bit of Peugeot or Citroen technology. And if they carry on buying them, then Tavares’s make a wager could pay off handsomely – especially if he’s managed to squeeze out a bit more profit margin on each conduit in the meantime.

And British customers? Expect some frenzied market research from PSA into whether we’re hung-up on the awareness of buying a Vauxhall or open to the prospect of having an Opel badge on the fronts of our Astras and Corsas as we depart into the middle of the next decade. The new owner is sounding very conciliatory at the second – but PSA’s recent history shows that if it ultimately does judge Vauxhall to be complicatedness that it doesn’t need, it won’t think twice to strike a line through it on the poise sheet.

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