Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller shared his thoughts on being freed from General Motors and the German brand's looming return to Russia in an interview with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Peter Sigal.
What has improved the most in the last two years under PSA ownership compared with GM?
The biggest improvement is reducing complexity. Complexity is the key thing because it drives everything. Of course, we have reduced the number of platforms, but if you also have fewer steering wheels, color choices, kinds of seats -- it reduces your manufacturing costs enormously. You also don't need as much space in the factory, so in some plants where we now have excess space, we have sold or leased some of that to suppliers. In turn, that improves logistics costs a lot.
Opel will be re-entering the Russian market later this year with the Grandland X as an export vehicle. Will you have Opel cars designed for global markets such as Russia, rather than Europe?
For Russia, we will focus on the cars we are selling in Europe. That's what buyers there like. The question is: Do we need to import them or can we produce them locally? Local assembly is much better in terms of overall cost structure, and we will build some cars [at PSA Group's factory] in Kaluga.
How has Opel's light-commercial vehicle business changed since it became part of PSA?
If you think about it, in 2017, the Combo [car-derived van] came from Fiat, the Vivaro [small van] came from Renault and the Movano [midsize van] also came from Renault. So, you can imagine what constraints we had. Now we have the Combo and Vivaro based on PSA architectures, and we just announced that the Movano, based on a PSA platform, will be built at our plant in Gliwice, Poland. That's the reason the business is growing so much. PSA Group is really, really good at LCVs and we at Opel benefit tremendously because LCVs are a very profitable business.
Although the Adam is being discontinued, you said that Opel will still serve customers looking for a minicar. How will you do that?
We think we can capture Adam customers' hearts with different body styles, maybe small SUVs, and a certain number of them will buy the new Corsa [small car].