Some observers in continental Europe think the British Vauxhall brand is a pointless irrelevance that should be subsumed into General Motors German unit Opel.
After all, they say, Vauxhalls are merely rebadged Opels and getting rid of the brand would lead to major cost-savings at a time when GM needs every penny. Its a view that is simplistic and ignores a few inconvenient truths.
-- Opel has tried and failed to sell cars in Britain.
-- Britons have been happily buying Vauxhalls in GM Europes most important market for more than a 100 years. In fact, they buy many more Vauxhalls than Germans buy Opels.
-- Nearly 45 percent of GMs important new Insignia model will be built as Vauxhalls.
Realistically, Vauxhall is not about to become an Opel division. Companies with marketing sense know that you do not just jettison a known and trusted brand name.
But GM killed Oldsmobile, some will say. Of course, when a single market cannot sustain one companys diverse brands something inevitably has to give.
But GM Europe is not in that position. Opels and Vauxhalls do not compete with each other.
So the question is: Why would GM spend millions trying to re-establish a brand to replace one that is already operating successfully?
The cost implications would be, horrendous, says a GM spokesman. Everything from stationery to dealer signage and more would need to be scrapped and replaced.
More importantly, it would be a huge -- and pointless -- gamble to exchange a known brand for one that has little recognition in the UK. The move would potentially drive customers into the hands of other German brands or arch-rival Ford.
So Opel needs Vauxhalls local market expertise, brand recognition and, yes, even its engineering input if it is to remain a strong car and commercial vehicle builder in Europe.
Anything that jeopardizes Vauxhall sales in Britain could see Opel losing critical mass at a time when size may mean the difference between survival and an uncertain future. Just ask Saab.