Holden NZ reacts to GM's potential sale of Opel, Vauxhall
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General Motors is said to be in advanced discussions for the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to the group that owns Citroen, DS Cars and Peugeot.
According to reports by Reuters and the DPA (Deutsche Press Agency), the American carmaking giant is deep in negotiations to offload its flagship European brands to the French PSA Group.
The two have previously shared production of some SUV and MPV models, though new reports claim a permanent deal is being ironed out for PSA to become a majority stakeholder in GM's European subsidiaries Luton-based Vauxhall and Opel.
Holden New Zealand’s general manager of corporate affairs, Ed Finn, told Driven that the company was aware of the news.
“There is nothing official to confirm at this stage, and we understand that it is business as usual,” said Finn.
Holden's Commodore replacement is Opel's Insignia sedan after the closing of GM Holden's Australia factory later this year.
"There is no impact on the next generation Commodore due to be released in New Zealand in 2018," said Finn.
The new Holden Astra hatchback is also sourced from Opel and Finn said that this product will not be affected either.
If a deal is concluded successfully, an announcement regarding new French ownership of Opel and Vauxhall could be made within days, a source told Reuters reporters.
'A PSA spokesman confirmed that the company was in talks with the U.S. carmaker to deepen their partnership,' Reuters said on Tuesday.
Bertrand Blaise, executive VP for corporate communications at Group PSA, is quoted by the news agency as saying, 'We are in discussions with Opel to expand upon our existing projects,' but declined to comment further.
PSA issued an official statement on the claims, saying: 'Since 2012, General Motors and PSA Group have been implementing an Alliance covering, to date, three projects in Europe and generating substantial synergies for the two groups.
'Within this framework, General Motors and PSA Group regularly examine additional expansion and cooperation possibilities, as well.
'PSA Group confirms that, together with General Motors, it is exploring numerous strategic initiatives aiming at improving its profitability and operational efficiency, including a potential acquisition of Opel.
'There can be no assurance that an agreement will be reached.'
GM sold its 7 per cent stake in the PSA Group in 2013 after cost savings through shared purchasing, product development and engineering fell short of expectations.
A deal between the two would see PSA up its stronghold on the European car market to 16 per cent, overtaking Renault to become the second biggest auto group in the region behind Volkswagen AG.
It would mean hugely popular British cars such as the Vauxhall Astra and Corsa become stablemates with rivals such as Peugeot's 308 and 208 and Citroen's C4 and C3.
Meanwhile, big names in the increasingly popular small SUV and MPV classes, such as Vauxhall's Mokka X and Zafira, Peugeot's 3008 and 5008 and Citroen's C4 Grand Picasso would also become motoring cousins.
An agreement would also open the door for the French automaker to access European-based electric-car technology as well as clear the way for GM to remove itself from the European market.
One concern here could be that the UK's decision to leave the European Union may potentially increase UK production costs for the American outfit.
The Ellesmere Port facility in Cheshire is the production facility for Vauxhall Astra models producing some 47 cars every hour.
Vauxhall UK also has headquarters in Luton, with a combined workforce of 4,500.
The Government is now being urged to seek assurances over the security of British jobs linked to the brand, with some 23,000 people employed within the Vauxhall retail network as a whole.
Len McClusky, general secretary of Unite the Union, said: 'My priority now is to speak to General Motors to seek immediate assurances for the UK plants and this loyal workforce.
'I'll also be seeking urgent conversations with the Government because everything must be done to secure our world-class automotive industry.'