Before being purchased by the PSA Group, Opel knew it was facing very serious problems. Among them, its annual operating losses of nearly 1 billion euros, but also its inability to meet EU CO2 emissions reduction targets, which would have meant massive fines.
Now, two years later, Opel is both profitable and has a clear plan on how to meet its emissions targets, said the company’s CEO Michael Lohscheller in an interview with Autonews Europe.
Still, at the end of last year, Opel’s emissions were far higher than those of PSA’s main brands, Peugeot and Citroen. We’re talking 126 g/km of CO2, as opposed to 108 g/km. Now, their target will be about 94g/km, according to analysts.
The way to get there is by purging itself of old GM architectures, as well as rolling out electric and plug-in hybrid versions of its popular models, said Lohscheller.
“The new cars on PSA architectures deliver a massive improvement in emissions — and then we bring electrification on top”, said Lohscheller. “To be very clear: we will be compliant as of 2020.”
At the end of 2018, most of Opel’s models were still riding on GM platforms. This included the best-selling Corsa, as well as the Astra, Mokka X, Insignia, Adam and Zafira. Meanwhile, average fleet weight was 1,345 kg (2,965 lbs), as opposed to 1,204 kg (2,654 lbs) for Citroen and 1,245 kg (2,744 lbs) for Peugeot, according to ISI.
By the end of 2020, this lineup will look very different, especially with an all-new and electrified Corsa riding on PSA’s CMP architecture. Also going electric will be the Grandland X and the next Mokka X, while by 2024, Opel will have electrified versions for each one of its nameplates – whether they be hybrids or fully-electric models.
“We have changed a major part of our product portfolio,” added Lohscheller. “Our emissions were relatively high, but that is based on the former portfolio of older products.”
It’s safe to say that Opel’s turnaround has been one of the quickest ever witnessed in the automotive industry, where in a couple of years they’ve gone from potentially facing penalties for non-compliant cars, to having a bright future yet again.