See the USA in a Chevrolet, but Not Europe

The first Camaro Z/28 introduced in 1967, was created to compete in the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am 2 class.

A 2014 Camaro Z/28 running at Germany’s Nürburgring posted a 7:37.40 lap time, beating best times for Porsche 911 Carrera S, Lamborghini Murcielago, among other expensive cars.

General Motors has decided to cut its losses after years of trying to establish Chevrolet in Europe as a mainstream brand. Starting in 2016, only some niche Chevy performance models, such as the Corvette and Camaro will be offered in Western and Eastern Europe (Chevrolet Debuts 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible 2014 Chevrolet Camaro on Sale in Europe at Year End). Renewed emphasis on the still money-losing Opel and Vauxhall brands will attempt to regain some share in the mass market.

This can be viewed either as progress by GM since it recognizing the futility of  the task  or a setback because it leaves GM’s brand strategy back where it was in the 20th century as it worked its way into a well-deserved bankruptcy. GM, which has not made a profit in in Europe since 1999, has lost more than $19 billion on Opel Vauxhall this century.

Chevrolet is the fourth largest global brand, but it remains unable to make headway in the Eurozone after decades of trying. The majority of Chevrolet models sold in Western and Eastern Europe is produced in South Korea. GM will increase its focus on profitability, managing costs and maximizing sales opportunities in its Korean operations.

“Europe is a key region for GM that will benefit from a stronger Opel and Vauxhall and further emphasis on Cadillac,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. “For Chevrolet, it will allow us to focus our investments where the opportunity for growth is greatest.”

Cadillac is finalizing plans for expanding in the European market to expand its distribution network during the next three years as it prepares for numerous product introductions. It sounds like the same strategy as the old Chevrolet one, but the difference is GM will not be competing against itself. Cadillac “only” has to compete against Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz…

The Corvette Stingray coupe and convertible will be sold in global markets starting in late 2013, with left-hand-drive models to be offered in Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Japan and Russia. Changes to Corvettes for export vary only in equipment required to accommodate market regulations, such as lighting, headlamp washers and outside mirrors. Sales of the Corvette outside of North America are currently minimal, and the lack of right hand drive model will not help here. In 2012 Corvette sales were only 14,132, a figure GM hopes to double with the new Stingray.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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