Q&A: Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann

Opel-Vauxhall’s chief executive explains the OEM’s plans to expand its SUV line-up, why diesel needs to regain its reputation and the possibility of bringing the GT sports car to series production

The Opel-Vauxhall business should reach a point where it is breakeven this year, is that being driven by higher sales or cost being controlled?
Both. It's where we have done a lot to optimise our cost base both in labour cost but also in material costs. All our cars are based on global architectures which we no longer sell as just Opel or Vauxhall but as global architectures. And where we couldn't do this because we don't have the right platforms in the GM group, we worked with PSA.

How long do you see the relationship with PSA lasting, is it an indefinite partnership?
We always said let's now focus on delivering the three projects which we actually decided on. These programmes work very well and I think the main reason is that both companies think we have some winning cars here and really need these cars for the portfolio and once we have executed those, we would see what the possible next step is.

You’ve developed the GT concept sports car, do you envisage it ever reaching production?
Well, it's definitely possible to build such a car. Not all the details, and you can argue about the how the rear mirrors should be and the window structure. But in general we would be able to build such a car, there are some commercial issues with it. It's a small segment and we want to make it a real GT with rear-wheel drive. There’s not really a small rear-wheel-drive platform, there are possibilities which we are exploring and that's about all I can say about it.

The SUV market is exploding, and firm’s such as Ford have announced that they will expand their SUV line up, will you be following suit?
It is one of our major weaknesses that we don't have a good SUV portfolio. We have one SUV which is the Mokka and it is extremely successful. Two of the three PSA projects will replace the Meriva and Zafira. The Meriva-type will be something different than the Mokka but in this segment and then we have the C-CUV and then we will also do another SUV which is our Insignia-based flagship SUV which we will build in Russelsheim. In a few years we will have a much better portfolio.

tags: GM Opel Vauxhall