Thomas Sedran is the new Opel chief image

General Motors’ lossmaking Opel subsidiary has named Thomas Sedran as interim chief to restructure the brand and stem hefty losses amid deteriorating regional demand for new cars.

Fixing the General Motors unit, called Vauxhall in the UK, has become a top priority for GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson, who has demanded an end to more than $3.5 billion in underlying losses racked up after the U.S.

While Stracke served as both head of Opel and as president of GM Europe, Sedran takes over only the interim Opel post.

The title of president of GM Europe remains with Girsky, who assumed control of the company’s European operations after Stracke left.

Reports had said Sedran might be a temporary appointment while the company looked for an external candidate to be CEO.

Last week, the U.S. automaker surprisingly removed Mr. Sedran’s predecessor, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, who also acted as president of GM’s European business, amid growing impatience with the pace of GM’s turnaround efforts in the region.

New registrations of Opel/Vauxhall vehicles fell 15 per cent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period a year ago, according to data published on Tuesday by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Peugeot and Fiat group sales slumped 14 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

One hope is Opel’s plan to join efforts with troubled European carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen. GM and PSA agreed in February on an alliance that is expected to reap combined synergies of about $2 billion annually within about five years.