The move to abandon the European market means for GM that it would put an end to the muddled overlap with GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands, which outsell Chevy in Europe by a 6-to-1 margin.
Still, the decision is a major setback to the automaker’s goal of transforming Chevrolet into a globe-spanning powerhouse. But it also lets GM leave a costly, near decade-long strategy of force-feeding Chevys into a market that had shown little appetite for the quintessential American brand.
In the end, GM’s decision in 2005 to launch Chevrolet in Europe could be seen as a contingency plan in the event of Opel’s sale or demise. With Opel now showing a faint pulse, the news seems to validate what GM executives have been saying for nearly two years: They plan to stick with Opel for the long haul.
“This lets them focus more on Opel and Vauxhall, while abandoning a brand strategy with Chevrolet that I don’t think many people bought into,” said Morningstar analyst David Whiston.
By sometime in 2016, Chevrolet “will no longer have a mainstream presence in Western and Eastern Europe, largely due to a challenging business model and the difficult economic situation in Europe,” GM said in a statement.
Only iconic Chevys, such as the Corvette, will continue to be sold throughout most of Europe. Chevrolet will continue selling a broad lineup in Russia and other countries that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
About half of Chevrolet’s 1,900 dealerships in Europe also sell Opel. GM said it would continue to provide warranty, parts and service for Chevy vehicles. Akerson also made clear his disdain for the decision by his predecessors in 2005 to roll out Chevy largely through rebadged vehicles developed and built by Daewoo, the Korean automaker that GM acquired in 2002.
Chevy’s lineup in recent years has evolved into a mix of vehicles built on platforms developed both by Opel and GM Korea, with styling and vehicle attributes that more closely match Chevys sold in the United States and other markets. Still, Chevy’s improved European lineup didn’t fix the overlap problem — and might have exacerbated it.
Via Automotive News Europe