DETROIT -- General Motors' departing CEO Dan Akerson said he is "optimistic" about the automaker's struggling European brand, Opel.
Opel's market share rose in Europe for the first time in 14 years in 2013, Akerson said during a question-and-answer session at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday.
GM President Dan Amman told the Congress that Opel was in its best shape in a long time, but Europe remains a "very, very fragile" economy. Ammann described 2014 as a "transition year" for GM's European operations.
Opel expects a modest increase in sales volume and market share this year. The brand will introduce a redesigned Corsa subcompact late in the year. A redesigned Astra compact is expected to follow in early 2015, along with new families of gasoline and diesel engines.
Vehicle sales at Opel and its UK sister brand Vauxhall fell 1.4 percent to 781,177 in western Europe in 2013 in a market down 2 percent, according to industry association ACEA, giving the unit a 6.8 percent market share, up a percentage point on the year before. In the wider 30-country EU and EFTA market, Opel/Vauxhall's share was stable at 6.7 percent with vehicle sales falling 1.5 percent.