General Motors CEO Dan Akerson expressed his frustration at the “confusing” overlap between Chevrolet and Opel brands in Europe. Although he didn’t say it specifically, the executive may start a major strategic shift at the company’s European operations to change brand strategy.
“It is of concern to me. Something has to change. I just think there’s channel conflict and confusion,” Akerson told Automotive News. He added that the conflict between the two brands in Europe is reminiscent of “retro GM”, when the carmaker’s U.S. market strategy was crowded with overlapping brands.
Akerson’s remarks at the most powerful public comments yet from General Motors about its overlapping brands in Europe. Despite efforts to move Opel upmarket, the German brand and Chevrolet continue to be seen as mainstream brands with a similar range of models.
GM’s CEO declined to say what measures will be taken to solve this problem, but said the company is working on a plan. “It is something we are going to resolve one way or another,” he said.
Chevrolet’s European sales fell 19 percent through September to 112,452 units, while Opel/Vauxhall sales fell 4 perceny to 630,453 units, in line with the overall market’s decline.
In recent months, GM execs have confirmed that they are reviewing the brand strategy in Europe but have said the Chevrolet-Opel overlap is an exaggeration. Chevrolet Europe boss Thomas Sedran said in September that there is “very little interaction” between the two brands.
By Andrei Nedelea