GM's troubled Opel unit gets a new boss and new platforms
Neumann: Praised for leadership skills
Opel AG, the European unit that has been a drag on General Motors' profits, is getting a new boss from Volkswagen AG and new platforms from PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Opel's supervisory board likely will confirm the appointment of Volkswagen executive Karl-Thomas Neumann as the unit's new CEO at a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 31, a member of the board told Automobilwoche, an affiliate of Automotive News.
"There is consensus on the supervisory board on this. Neumann has experience with restructuring and has excellent leadership skills," the Opel board member said.
Neumann, 51, will succeed interim CEO Thomas Sedran on March 1. Neumann's contract with VW expires June 30, but a source close to the VW Group said that the automaker was willing to let Neumann exit his contract early as a good-will gesture.
Neumann headed VW's China operations until June. He was CEO of German supplier Continental AG before he rejoined VW in 2009. The electronics engineer had spent a large part of his early career at VW.
Separately, GM and alliance partner PSA said they will build all three of their planned joint vehicle programs on the French automaker's platforms.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
At a press conference in Brussels, PSA CEO Philippe Varin and GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said a future generation of small cars such as the Opel Corsa and Citroen C3 will be based on a PSA vehicle platform. PSA will also develop a family of minivans and crossovers to replace its Peugeot 3008 and the Opel Zafira, while GM will draw up successors to the Opel Meriva, Citroen C3 Picasso minivans and Peugeot 2008 crossover. Both vehicle categories will use PSA platforms.
The first vehicles from the shared development programs are due in showrooms from 2016 onward for sale largely in Europe.
GM and PSA are looking at a possible fourth platform for fuel-efficient cars, and they're continuing to consider ways to expand cooperation to growing vehicle markets, such as South America and Russia, Varin said.
GM, whose European division has racked up $17.3 billion in losses since 1999, became PSA's second-largest shareholder in March 2012 with the purchase of a 7 percent stake.
Peugeot and Opel are struggling with excess production capacity and mounting losses compounded by a protracted sales slump in Europe -- where auto demand is at a 17-year low and still falling. But Varin and Girsky declined to say where the jointly developed vehicles will be built.
"These products are coming to market in 2016 so it's premature to make any manufacturing decisions," Girsky said. "We'll deal with that when the time comes, somewhere down the line."
Reuters contributed to this report
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