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Automotive News: GM to restructure European sales, marketing

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"GM to restructure European sales, marketing"

John Revill

Automotive News

February 5, 2009

General Motors is restructuring its sales, marketing and aftersales operations in Europe to give its Opel, Chevrolet Europe and Saab brands more autonomy.

The change will allow each brand to be more responsive to market conditions, Brent Dewar, GM Europe's head of sales, marketing and aftersales told Automotive News Europe.

"This year will be as challenging as 2008. We want to speed up decision making and focus our resources," Dewar said.

The initiative will see three executives named brand leaders, effective March 1.

Alain Visser will be vice president for Opel with responsibility for promoting the German brand. Currently, Visser is GM Europe's chief marketing officer.

Wayne Brannon will become vice president responsible for Chevrolet sales in Europe. Currently, Brannon is executive director of Chevrolet Europe.

Jan-Ake Jonsson, currently managing director of Saab, will add responsibility for Saab's marketing and sales in Europe.

Dewar said GM Europe's multi-brand structure had served the carmaker well but "we will now transfer to a set-up with more autonomy for the individual brands."

Dewar said the three brands will launch key models this year, which will allow each marque to have its own marketing strategy.

Opel will launch a new generation of its Astra lower-medium car, Chevrolet will introduce the Cruze lower-medium car and Saab will launch a new 9-5 medium-premium car.

GM said it will have an opportunity to stress the differences between the brands.

"Chevrolet is very different from Opel and both are different from Saab," Dewar said.

Chevrolet is GM's value-for-money brand in Europe. Opel is its volume seller and Saab is near-premium.

Chevrolet's Brannon said the restructuring will boost the brand's profile in Europe. "We intend to be more of a player in Europe," he said.

Despite the economic downturn, Chevrolet increased its European sales by 10.7 percent to 507,000 cars last year.

Saab's Jonsson the new structure would give the Swedish brand greater responsiveness to the markets. "We will not be working through many different layers and we can better focus our brand," he said.

GM's sales in Europe including Russia and Turkey fell 6.5 percent to 2.04 million units in 2008 compared with 2007, the company said last month. Its European market share fell to 9.2 per cent from 9.4 percent.

Sales of Opel and its sister brand Vauxhall fell 10.5 percent to 1.63 million after the financial crisis spread into key western markets such as the UK and Spain.

Opel is seeking about $1.4 billion in financial guarantees from the German government in case parent GM files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Saab's global sales fall 25.5 percent to 93,338 units. GM has launched a review of the Swedish brand with options including a sale.

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Good! Thing is that if you give Saab proper funding and, most importantly, independece from GM's strategy "gurus", it might acttually have a future. I'd crap my pants if Saab could become profitable with GM soleley as an equity/technology partner...

Saab folks both in NA and in Europe have said that Saab has been profitable (i.e., at least reaching breakeven) just before this global financial crisist mess... I, for one, would LOVE to study how GM puts together its Transfer Pricing system, just to see if Saab isn't being charged with costs it shouldn't be charged with in the first place....

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Good! Thing is that if you give Saab proper funding and, most importantly, independece from GM's strategy "gurus", it might acttually have a future. I'd crap my pants if Saab could become profitable with GM soleley as an equity/technology partner...

Saab folks both in NA and in Europe have said that Saab has been profitable (i.e., at least reaching breakeven) just before this global financial crisist mess... I, for one, would LOVE to study how GM puts together its Transfer Pricing system, just to see if Saab isn't being charged with costs it shouldn't be charged with in the first place....

You, you, bean counter you ... :neenerneener:

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Saab is so toast unless it gets autonomy from the swedish whatever. saab cannot exist alone without techlogical allegiance to some sort of large borg.

flipside. you cannot give the NA brands autonomy. it would be making bad situation worse.

GM someday will be just chevy and cadillac and a niche middle brand. I want to see opel fill that role. i like buick, i like pontiac, but i think the public has moved on and the GME has so much to offer GM as a whole.

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:mind-blowing:

Well, I do work in finance. That makes me a bean counter, I guess... :smilewide:

You, you, bean counter you ... :neenerneener:

LOL, I'm actually unsure if you were just joking or if SAAB is indeed being charged a disproportionate share of costs... so... :neenerneener: back at you!

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LOL, I'm actually unsure if you were just joking or if SAAB is indeed being charged a disproportionate share of costs... so... :neenerneener: back at you!

You know I never kiss & tell. :smilewide: I did however find a local Portuguese restaurant that serves an excellent Portuguese shrimp soup. :yes:

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Wow! Cadillac is not even mentioned. Has GM given up on trying to help the brand get a solid foothold in Europe?

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WTF? Why not give this autonomy to its brands in North America?

+1...

I guess they won't do it here because it would make too much damn sense and might actually cause GMNA to be successful.

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Saab is so toast unless it gets autonomy from the swedish whatever. saab cannot exist alone without techlogical allegiance to some sort of large borg.

flipside. you cannot give the NA brands autonomy. it would be making bad situation worse.

GM someday will be just chevy and cadillac and a niche middle brand. I want to see opel fill that role. i like buick, i like pontiac, but i think the public has moved on and the GME has so much to offer GM as a whole.

So, basically GM will be Ford?

L-A-M-E... Count me out if this is the direction we're "advancing" the company.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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Wow! Cadillac is not even mentioned. Has GM given up on trying to help the brand get a solid foothold in Europe?

Maybe Saab will play that role now (which makes sense on a lot of levels)

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Saab is so toast unless it gets autonomy from the swedish whatever. saab cannot exist alone without techlogical allegiance to some sort of large borg.

flipside. you cannot give the NA brands autonomy. it would be making bad situation worse.

GM someday will be just chevy and cadillac and a niche middle brand. I want to see opel fill that role. i like buick, i like pontiac, but i think the public has moved on and the GME has so much to offer GM as a whole.

Have you been spying on our meetings? :scratchchin:

Borg huh? How about a Borger? :AH-HA_wink:

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Maybe Saab will play that role now (which makes sense on a lot of levels)

I agree, but it does seem a shame if GM cannot make Cadillac a true global brand. The CTS line and the SRX seem to indicate a much brighter future for the brand. For Cadillac to become "The Standard Of The World" again, it would need to be successful on a global basis (at least this fact would better back up that sort of marketing spin).

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I agree, but it does seem a shame if GM cannot make Cadillac a true global brand. The CTS line and the SRX seem to indicate a much brighter future for the brand. For Cadillac to become "The Standard Of The World" again, it would need to be successful on a global basis (at least this fact would better back up that sort of marketing spin).

You do know Cadillac has pulled out of Australia ...

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Saab is so toast unless it gets autonomy from the swedish whatever. saab cannot exist alone without techlogical allegiance to some sort of large borg.

flipside. you cannot give the NA brands autonomy. it would be making bad situation worse.

GM someday will be just chevy and cadillac and a niche middle brand. I want to see opel fill that role. i like buick, i like pontiac, but i think the public has moved on and the GME has so much to offer GM as a whole.

I don't agree about Buick. I think it could be transformed into a cool and relevant premium brand with the proper products (mostly Opel based) and some cool marketing/advertising. If the current Insignia sedan/wagon and some other next gen Opel products were tailored for and built in North America (something GM dropped the ball with when they imported the current gen Saturn Astra) as Buicks (along with the Enclave and next gen LaCrosse), then the brand could be positioned for a definite renaissance and transformation. I think this is where Buick differs quite a bit from Saturn and Pontiac. Buick still has some of its traditional premium perception remaining. It's just a matter of transforming the brand's image from stodgy to cool (which could be done with modern premium products and effective marketing/advertising). Saturn started its existence as a cultlike warm and fuzzy affordable brand; this alone would make it a hard sale as a premium brand (a fact that should have been obvious to GM). Pontiac has been all over the map with its image to a point that the general public really doesn't know what Pontiac stands for except that the brand is an affordable alternative to Chevrolet; again, not something that would be easily transformed into premium material. Overall, I think it would be easier to make Buick cool and relevant in the premium segment than try to take Saturn or Pontiac upmarket. Since Buick is already established here, I also think it would take less effort and resources transforming the brand than trying to launch a little known brand such as Opel in this market. In North America and China, Buick could become what Vauxhall currently is in Great Britain, a regional outlet for Opel products.

I do think Pontiac and Saturn could become effective niche players for GM if the corporation can successfully give them focused niches with corresponding products that reinforce the brands' missions.

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You do know Cadillac has pulled out of Australia ...

Yeah, I know and I think it's a shame (although technically Cadillac didn't pull out, from what I understand it never appeared there in the first place). Maybe Cadillac is not quite ready for primetime as a global luxury presence (but neither is Saab; I think it is more accepted than Cadillac in Europe because it is based in an European country). If Cadillac isn't ready (which it won't be without a proper compact luxury car series), then I do hope that GM is working diligently to correct the situation. Of course, the global economic crisis isn't helping matters at all either.

Maybe giving autonomy to Saab will help it make some progress in Europe. If people don't view it as just another GM outlet, then maybe it can gain some crediblity in the premium segment there (I think Cadillac should remain GM's focus in the luxury segment in North America). This is the reason why I cringed every time I saw that little chrome GM badge on GMNA products and the all encompassing corporate commercials (with every GM brand) on TV. I think it diluted the power and perception of the individual brands. Saab, Cadillac, and Buick should be viewed as something more unique and special than just members of a corporate conglomerate that also offers ordinary mainstream Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn products. I know the commercials were designed to show the strength and diversity of GM, but I think that has definitely fallen flat in light of the recent bailout requests (whether the money is needed due to GM's incompetence or economic conditions beyond their control).

Edited by cire
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So, basically GM will be Ford?

L-A-M-E... Count me out if this is the direction we're "advancing" the company.

ford has a future and a plan.

ford will not fail.

gm might.

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You know I never kiss & tell. :smilewide: I did however find a local Portuguese restaurant that serves an excellent Portuguese shrimp soup. :yes:
We rule, foodwise :AH-HA_wink:

Maybe Saab will play that role now (which makes sense on a lot of levels)
Actually it does and that's the reason many have defended pairing those two at the retail level. In Europe SAAB sells more and Cadillac can be the niche premium player, In NA the situation reverses and it's SAAB that is the tiny player.
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I agree, but it does seem a shame if GM cannot make Cadillac a true global brand. The CTS line and the SRX seem to indicate a much brighter future for the brand. For Cadillac to become "The Standard Of The World" again, it would need to be successful on a global basis (at least this fact would better back up that sort of marketing spin).

Hate to say it but I think GM, in it's infinite ignorance, has given up on cadillac as anything other than a Lincoln competitor.

Think about it: No dedicated V8 or powertrains at all. No RWD for the CTS to move to. No replacement planned for either the STS or the DTS. No halo vehicle. Escalade becomes a corporate Lambda drone a la SRX and Theta. No alpha program to develop the line Cadillac dearly needs. No replacement for the ESV or EXT. The negatives just keep piling up.

RE: Cadillac in Australia... So what? Who cares about Austrailia when their market is small and shrinking away from the vehicles Cadillac builds anyway. Cadillac couldn't provide anything Holden can't provide.

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ford has a future and a plan.

ford will not fail.

I agree... But just as GM is not Toyota and should not pretend to be, GM is not Ford and should not pretend to be.

If we forrfeit the fight enough to where we need only 2 divisions, GMs dead anyway (Or so damn small that it doesn't even matter anymore)

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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Hate to say it but I think GM, in it's infinite ignorance, has given up on cadillac as anything other than a Lincoln competitor.

Think about it: No dedicated V8 or powertrains at all. No RWD for the CTS to move to. No replacement planned for either the STS or the DTS. No halo vehicle. Escalade becomes a corporate Lambda drone a la SRX and Theta. No alpha program to develop the line Cadillac dearly needs. No replacement for the ESV or EXT. The negatives just keep piling up.

RE: Cadillac in Australia... So what? Who cares about Austrailia when their market is small and shrinking away from the vehicles Cadillac builds anyway. Cadillac couldn't provide anything Holden can't provide.

I partially agree...

I think more companies (even some of the luxury mainstays such as BMW and Mercedes) will depend on 6 cylinder or less engines in most of their future products. There will still be 8 cylinder or more engines around, but they will be very exclusive.

I don't think the upcoming next gen SRX is such a bad idea. This vehicle will attract a new demographic to Cadillac. As long as GM properly designs and engineers this product to be a proper luxury vehicle that is thoroughly differentiated from other GM products, then it will help the brand more than hurt it. I have to give GM and Cadillac some credit with the upcoming SRX; they didn't take a Chevy design and simply alter the front/rear styling like Ford blatantly did with the Edge/MKX twins.

My hope would be that GM continues to update/improve/develop the Sigma platform for Cadillac's CTS line. Since this may well be Cadillac's flagship model for the forseeable future, it needs to be on a RWD platform. I also hope that they stick with their plan to expand the line with a wagon and coupe.

Right now I don't see a flagship sedan positioned above the CTS or a halo vehicle to be as crucial to Cadillac's image and success as much as a 3-Series/C-Class/A4 competitor. The compact car segment is the heart and volume of the luxury market and Cadillac is noticeably absent from it. If GM cancels Alpha (which I unfortunately fear that they might), then they need to develop this car on an AWD version of the Epsilon II platform (at least it might have a chance of competing squarely with the A4). The resulting car would be shorter, lighter, sportier, and more luxurious than its SWB Epsilon II platform mates as it will be competing in the luxury compact segment instead of the mainstream midsize sedan segment. As with the CTS, this car needs to be a complete series with sedan, wagon, and coupe variants. Until Cadillac can compete and firmly establish itself in the heart of the luxury market, then any attempts to sell a flagship sedan or halo vehicle will not be taken seriously. Cadillac needs to reestablish its credibility from the bottom up, not the top down.

I do agree that the Escalade replacement should not be built on Lambda. My vote would be to put it on Sigma (just don't make it look like an elevated station wagon like the current Sigma based SRX). Since it would probably be Cadillac's flagship people mover, it is only proper that it be based on Sigma instead of Lambda. I don't think Cadillac needs the ESV or EXT anymore; customers for these vehicles should be directed to GMC. Cadillac should be cars and crossovers only.

I could see Cadillac ready for global luxury primetime with a plug in electric hybrid series (sedan, coupe, wagon based on the Converj Concept), a compact car series (sedan, coupe, wagon; preferably based on Alpha, but will probably end up on AWD SWB Epsilon II), a complete CTS Series on Sigma (sedan, coupe, wagon), the SRX, and a larger crossover to replace the Escalade (preferably on Sigma, but will probably end up on Lambda).

I also agree that Cadillac's absence from Australia is not a big deal. However, I am concerned that the brand still struggles to compete in Europe, even with the excellent CTS sedan. If Cadillac can compete with the luxury big dogs on their home turf, then it can truly be labeled as "The Standard Of The World".

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However, I am concerned that the brand still struggles to compete in Europe, even with the excellent CTS sedan. If Cadillac can compete with the luxury big dogs on their home turf, then it can truly be labeled as "The Standard Of The World".

To put things quite bluntly, over here virtually no one gives a rat's ass about Cadillac. The reason is that since the early 1970's Cadillac has, for the most part, been more of "The Standard Of Nothing".

I think GM will never have a credible premium/luxury brand that aims to compete with the BMW/Mercedes/Audi trio. The cash crunch is forcing them to abandon that plan. Maybe Cadillac can aspire to be the American equivalent of Jaguar: good cars, hopefully sold at high profit margins, but very small volume when compared to the German trio.

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To put things quite bluntly, over here virtually no one gives a rat's ass about Cadillac. The reason is that since the early 1970's Cadillac has, for the most part, been more of "The Standard Of Nothing".

I think GM will never have a credible premium/luxury brand that aims to compete with the BMW/Mercedes/Audi trio. The cash crunch is forcing them to abandon that plan. Maybe Cadillac can aspire to be the American equivalent of Jaguar: good cars, hopefully sold at high profit margins, but very small volume when compared to the German trio.

I would have to agree. What GM doesn't understand about Europeans is that when it comes to the vehicles that they drive, they are very nationalistic and support the home team. They will 1st look at what's being produced in their home country, then region, then Europe as a whole.

Too bad North Americans don't think like that ...

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