THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- General Motors Co. European unit Opel/Vauxhall aims to make a "substantial three-digit-million euro profit" in 2012, company sources told Automotive News Europe.
Opel/Vauxhall lost $1.6 billion last year and was the only GM unit to report a loss in the first quarter of 2011 as it continued with a major restructuring of the company, which was nearly sold in 2009.
When asked about Opel/Vauxhall's profit target during an interview with ANE here last week, new Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke declined to provide details.
"Our goal is to be sustainably profitable beginning next year. We're confident we will achieve our goal with our significantly improved cost structure … and the higher sales figures that we are targeting."
Opel/Vauxhall's 2011 aim is to finish "at least at breakeven" on an operating basis, Stracke said. He added that the unit was in the black operationally in the first three months of the year but posted a pre-tax loss of 275 million euros because of write-downs associated with its efforts to reduce production capacity and staff in Europe.
"We are on the right path," said Stracke, who was GM's vice president of engineering before taking over Opel in April. "We have gained market share in 19 out of 27 European markets since the start of the year."
The CEO said he wants the company to sell "about 1.3 million" Opel/Vauxhall cars in 2011, up from 1.2 million last year. Part of that increase is expected to come from Russia, where Stracke said sales are poised to reach 60,000 units this year, up from 40,000 in 2010.
In Europe, Opel/Vauxhall's sales through May were up 6 percent to 446,359 units from 420,832 during the same period last year, boosting its market share to 7.3 percent from 6.9 percent, according to data from industry association ACEA.
"By the middle of the decade, we are striving for 8.5 percent (share) in Europe and more than 10 percent in Germany," Stracke said.
Opel's share in its German home market was 8.1 percent in the first half of 2011, according to the German motor transport authority (KBA).
A key part of Opel/Vauxhall's rebound is the launch of Ampera plug-in hybrid later this year. The Chevrolet Volt's sibling model is supposed to be an image builder for Opel.
"We are expecting a volume of 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles in 2012," Stracke said. "At the moment, we already have 5,000 pre-orders, including 2,000 from private customers. Our production capacity has only recently been increased at GM's Hamtramck factory, where the Ampera is built. I am confident that we can build 12,000 – 15,000 Amperas if demand keeps growing."
Currently, the Hamtramck plant near Detroit is expected to produce 60,000 units of the Volt/Ampera a year. In Europe, Chevrolet plans to sell up to 2,000 units of the Volt annually.
Only 150 to 200 out of the 4,600 Opel/Vauxhall dealerships in Europe will sell the Ampera.
"They will invest in the necessary hardware and software," Stracke said. Most of the Ampera dealers initially will be in Germany and the Netherlands. The CEO expects each of those markets to account for 30 percent of the plug-in hybrid's total European volume.