GENEVA - General Motors Europe will lead development of the global platform on which the 2004 Astra replacement will be based.
The transfer of the Delta program from GM's North American operations puts Opel's Technical Development Center in Russelsheim in control of all three core European platforms.
They include: Delta (Astra, Zafira), Gamma (Corsa, Tigra) and Epsilon (Vectra, Omega and future Saabs).
The change also means GM Europe will decide on the timing of its own product launches and development cycles, regardless of the needs of GM operations elsewhere.
Last month, GM named Jon Lauckner as the vehicle line executive for the Delta platform. Lauckner, 42, is an American, but based in Russelsheim.
'It made sense to let Europe take the lead,' said GM President Rick Wagoner.
The shift could mean North America gets small cars based on a European platform for the first time in decades.
Wagoner admitted GM has made mistakes trying to share products between markets in the past - in particular trying to sell the US-built Sintra full-size minivan in Europe. The Sintra has now been withdrawn.
Another 'learning experience' has been the decision to base the new Saturn SL on the Vectra. The project was floundering - partly because of poor marketing, Wagoner said. But he also said the platform-sharing strategy had not been totally successful.