Opel Expects Flat Auto Sales in 2013 image

Opel said it plans to sell more than 1 million vehicles this year, matching the 2012 level, relying on its new Cascada cabriolet and Adam subcompact models.

“Of course it depends to a degree on the industry,” said Opel sales chief Duncan Aldred on the sidelines of a media event in Geneva. “What I definitely do expect is to grow our market share.”

Opel and Vauxhall, its UK sister, expect the last two model launches, the Adam and the Mokka subcompact SUV, to boost sales. Orders for the Mokka model reached 90,000 units, almost the limit of the car’s full-year production capacity, while orders for the Adam hit 30,000, and the model hasn’t even reached the UK showrooms yet.

“We had more optimism that it would come in above our budget, but unfortunately it’s coming down right in line with it,” said Aldred. “So it’s working from the basis of ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best,’ but I was hoping there was more strength than there appears to be.”

The Italian auto market dropped 20% in February year-on-year and Aldred said that besides this, consumer confidence was also affected by Pope Benedict’s resignation, the first time in 600 years when the Pope resigns.

“Not only have you got political elections, but the Pope resigns for the first time in 600 years, so it doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in the whole country. It just creates more uncertainty in the marketplace. The timing didn’t help really.”