FRANKFURT -- Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann says his automaker and sister brand Chevrolet must be distinct from one another and be allowed to develop separately in Europe.
"There is a lot of scope to improve the market positioning of Opel and Chevrolet," Neumann said.
"To better reach out to our target groups, we must separate the brands more clearly from one another. We are working on that,'' Neumann added during his presentation at the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin last week.
When asked to provide details on how this will be done, Neumann said: "We're working on it and at the right point we will talk about it."
Neumann's comments echo what General Motors CEO Dan Akerson recently said when asked about his plans to differentiate the two GM brands in Europe.
Two weeks ago, Akerson told Automotive News Europe sister publication of Automotive News that he is frustrated by the "confusing" overlap between Opel and Chevrolet in Europe. Akerson likened the conflict between Opel and Chevrolet to "retro GM," when the automaker's U.S. market strategy was cluttered with overlapping brands.
The remarks from both Akerson and Neumann contrast with those of Chevrolet Europe boss Thomas Sedran, who said at the Frankfurt auto show in September that there is "very little interaction between" the two brands.
Taking Opel upmarket
Despite several years of trying to move Opel upmarket and attempts to boost Chevrolet's growth in the region as an entry-level player, both brands continue to be seen as similarly positioned, mainstream marques.
Neumann, who took the helm at Opel in March, said his brand had already made big steps in restructuring its money-losing operations. He said the automaker's market share in Europe has remained steady at 6.8 percent in the first 10 months, the same level as 2012, and if that level holds it would be the first time in 15 years that Opel's share hasn't fallen compared with the previous year.
The CEO, however, said it was too early to celebrate. He warned that "2014 will be another difficult year," but added that the carmaker was on the right path to boosting profitability.
The CEO said Opel has the full support of GM, which plans to invest 4 billion euros in its European operations by 2016 in a bid to restructure the company and freshen the product range.
GM has lost more than $18 billion in Europe since 1999 and hopes to break even in the region by mid-decade.
Chevrolet sales in EU and EFTA markets slid 17 percent through October to 125,752, according to data from the industry organization ACEA.
Opel/Vauxhall sales, helped by strong demand for new products such as the Opel Mokka small crossover, slipped 3 percent to 697,126 units, which in line with the market's overall decline.
Automobilwoche contributed to this report