This is a press release out from GM Europe today. There’s very little in it directly involving Saab, but I guess it paints part of the bigger picture.
And it’s from Dudenhofen. My new favourite place.
General Motors Europe focusing on small and compact models
Natural gas and ethanol as low-emission alternatives
Ongoing growth opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe
Dudenhofen. General Motors Europe continues its upward trend by focusing on fuel-saving small and compact cars. Following GME’s 227 million dollar profit in 2006 − the first since 1999 − GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster is not troubled by the current discussion about energy efficiency and lower emissions. In fact, he sees it more as a plus-point for the Opel, Chevrolet, Saab and Cadillac brands. “The fact that more car buyers are taking the environmental compatibility and energy balance of their cars into consideration is a good thing for us,” says Forster. At the same time, he called for a closer cooperation between auto producers, the oil industry and politicians so that solutions to climate protection can be found. Forster: “The consumer must be able to afford environmental technology. This is the only way to put it on a broad and effective basis”.
The volume brand Opel in particular has taken on a leading role: the new Corsa made a record start with 300,000 units ordered since its launch half a year ago and, thanks to the growing popularity of the extremely economical new 1.3-liter diesel engine (4,6 liters consumption, 119 g CO2/km) carbon dioxide emissions across the whole model line are reduced. Within the Corsa range, more than 90 percent of all cars sold in Germany are below the level of 140 g CO2/km. The entire Astra vehicle range has been revised and fitted with new, even more economical engines. In addition, Opel will launch a completely new generation of the small Agila van next year, which will also boast top values in consumption and CO2 emissions.
“Regardless of whether it’s natural gas in the Opel Zafira, ethanol in the Saab 9-5 and 9-3 BioPower or the first economical diesel engines in Cadillac models – our brands already have the right solutions to the challenges of the future,” emphasized Forster at a press conference at the Dudenhofen Test Center near Frankfurt. GME will pursue this strategy aggressively and confidently, and has invited German Green Party leader Renate Künast to visit the Rüsselsheim Development Center and the fuel cell development laboratory in Mainz-Kastel in April.
Looking to future development in Europe, Forster underlined an ever-increasing division in the markets. While the aim in Western Europe’s mostly saturated markets is to improve the entry level segment with attractive, well-equipped vehicles, Central and Eastern Europe’s markets offer considerable opportunities for growth. Starting late 2007, the Sedan version of the Opel Astra will be built in Gliwice, Poland. GME expects this additional model will continue to increase Opel sales in the region.
GME’s top growth performer in Eastern European countries is the affordable entry-level brand Chevrolet. Therefore GM has decided to increasingly shift production from Korea to Europe. Forster said that instead of the 25,000 units originally planned, GME now wants to produce around 70,000 vehicles per year as of 2008 at the new plant in St. Petersburg, Russia.