The latest issue of the Automotive News Europe monthly magazine goes live on Monday, April 3. The new edition looks at the next steps PSA will need to take to make its purchase of Opel and Vauxhall a success.
There will be shock waves in the France- and Germany-based companies and in the overall European automotive sector as PSA-Opel makes big changes. To achieve PSA’s goal of returning Opel/Vauxhall to profit with an operating margin of 2 percent within three years and 6 percent by 2026, industry experts predict that up to three PSA-Opel plants will close and 5,000 workers will be laid off. In addition, one of the combined group’s four volume brands may eventually shut down, some analysts say. All those moves are considered overdue adjustments in a saturated European market with chronic production overcapacity. Our cover story looks at the next big steps that will need to be taken.
One of those will be addressing what many industry watchers consider Opel/Vauxhall’s biggest problem: pricing. PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, who values profit over volume, can’t be pleased with data showing that Opel/Vauxhall sold nearly 40 percent of its cars in Europe’s five biggest markets via low-margin special channels. PSA’s near-premium DS brand is also struggling in this area. Fortunately, Tavares has a knack for fixing this problem.
BMW aims to launch a self-driving car by 2021, but there are many obstacles to overcome on the road to Level 4 and Level 5 automation, which require little to no human intervention. BMW brand sales chief Ian Robertson shares some insights on those challenges.
New Mitsubishi COO Trevor Mann faces the complex task of integrating the Japanese automaker into the Renault-Nissan alliance and addressing Mitsubishi’s heavy reliance on SUVs in Europe. Mann outlined his plans to overcome both.
Europe’s small SUV/crossover segment is forecast to continue its rapid growth as models from latecomers such as Volkswagen, Seat, Hyundai and Kia expand the sector above 2 million sales in 2018 and to 2.3 million by 2020, according to predictions. The segment’s volume rose 17 percent to more than 1.4 million sales last year. The surge was led by the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 and further propelled by strong year-on-year gains for the Fiat 500X, Suzuki Vitara, Ford EcoSport and Jeep Renegade. We look at the models that are expected to push the segment to new heights.
Our Latest Launches section leads off with the new Kia Rio. The Korean automaker has added driver assistance systems not typical in small cars as well as upgraded connectivity in the Toyota Yaris rival. Kia hopes offering such features at an affordable price -- or as standard equipment -- will help the car be more successful in Europe’s most competitive segment.
Mercedes-Benz has extended its new-generation E-class family with a coupe. The German automaker has repositioned it to offer more room and more functionality, promoting the sporty two-door model as the only offering in the coupe niche that comes with four full-size seats. Mercedes also says the E-class coupe offers class-leading aerodynamics.
Gestamp made headlines last month when the Spanish metal-parts supplier announced an initial public offering that would value it at about 3.7 billion euros. It’s the culmination of a busy 20 years in which the family-controlled firm has increased revenue from 240 million euros in 1997 to 7.5 billion euros last year. Gestamp CEO Francisco Riberas expects the company to maintain its rapid growth as automakers outsource more metal stamping work to suppliers. He explained why in an interview.
This month we also help Volvo celebrate a big day. On April 14, 1927, the first Volvo rolled out of the company’s factory in Gothenburg. Ninety years later the Swedish automaker is enjoying one of the most prosperous periods in its history. We look at how Volvo got to where it is today, paying special attention to the people, vehicles and milestone moments shaping the automaker’s first nine decades. We also find out why Volvo believes that the best is still to come.
Enjoy the issue!
Luca Ciferri, Associated Publisher and Editor