Opel Ampera-e On Chopping Block If PSA Takes Over?

8 months ago by Steven Loveday 65

Opel Ampera-e

Opel Ampera-e

Opel Ampera-e

Opel Ampera-e

It is no secret that there is a possibility that French-owned PSA group may have plans to purchase Opel Vauxhall from General Motors. Talk on the subject began in 2012, but GM’s CEO at the time, Dan Akerson, denied any activity.

GM and PSA group have been known to work together on European projects, and have been working toward increased partnerships to maximize operational efficiency and profitability. The two companies have both officially confirmed that there are now discussions regarding the potential Opel deal.

What does this mean for the Opel Ampera-e?

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has spent a great deal of time preparing a strategy to mold Opel into an electric-only automaker. Opel Vauxhall has experienced struggles lately, and according to Neumann, not having to deal with both combustion engines and electric powertrains, would be advantageous. GM is set to decide on Neumann’s proposal in May of this year.

Under the new plan, Opel would continue selling the Ampera-e, and likely other vehicles, using the GM Bolt’s architecture. All Opel combustion engine vehicles would be slowly phased out, between now and 2030. During the interim, Opel would be divided into two sectors: one finishing out the “old” vehicle lineup, and one adopting the “new” concept.

In the event that PSA Group acquires Opel, there is no guarantee that any of Neumann’s plans will come to fruition. At this point, the stage at which the negotiations are at is unclear. There is no hard evidence that the acquisition will take place, but closed-door discussions are underway. It’s our belief that if the deal does go through, the Ampera-E will die off soon after.

Source: Opel, Automotive News Europe

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65 responses to "Opel Ampera-e On Chopping Block If PSA Takes Over?"

  1. Benz says:

    Too bad for Europe.

    1. Chris O says:

      Small consolation: at least Europe will get Model 3. It may not be much but on the upside: and unlike Bolt that does look like a $40K car, does come with real quick charge capabilities and a real quick charge network, surely that counts for something?

  2. Miggy says:

    Is this why GM did not plan to make the Bolt in RHD? when it would sell so well in the UK.

    1. Dav8or says:

      Could be, but it’s also a matter of economics. The right hand drive market is small and GM isn’t a big player in those markets . GM is all but barred from Japan. We like to cheer monthly sales numbers in the four digit range for a particular model here in the EV bubble, but in the rest of the automotive world those numbers are tiny.

      To make it worthwhile for GM to start separate production and inventory of RHD specific parts as well as modifications to the assembly line, they would have to sell significant numbers of these cars in RHD countries. I’m sure they’ve run the numbers and it comes up short.

      1. Jason says:

        Don’t think I agree with this. Australia is RHD and GM own Holden, I believe. All our Holden cars, bar one, are are GM models from over seas. I read that Bolt was engineered in Australia and supposedly the is a RHD development vehicle here.
        If all that is true, then really a RHD Bolt should be ready to go pretty easily.

        1. Dav8or says:

          It’s not about engineering, (although this is the first I’ve heard of any Australian engineering on the Bolt) it’s about economics. It’s about producing and inventorying a whole set of different parts. It’s about making some sort of modification to the factory to deal with RHD vs. LHD. Sell a car in larger numbers and this is acceptable, but sell a car in tiny numbers like the Bolt sells now and it becomes a negative on the balance sheet.

          I would not doubt for a second that GM has considered the RHD market, run the numbers and it just doesn’t work out right now, but I bet they also have a plan for entering that market in the future if the Bolt and Ampera e really sell well and demand continues to climb.

          BEVs from all manufacturers are still just a tiny niche market worldwide. We have to remember that here in the bubble.

          1. Kdawg says:

            Just the Bolt EV concept was by GM Australia design team.

  3. Dav8or says:

    I can see how PSA would want to license the Bolt and it’s platform from GM going forward. That would give them an in to the EV market. There are lots of examples of competitive companies making deals that mutually benefit them. In this deal, PSA gets an electric car and GM gets more sales of Bolts that they would otherwise not have as they would no longer have a European presence.

    What I can’t understand is, why is Opel / Vauxhall such a lame business? I understand it hasn’t made an annual profit since 1999!! Why do they suck so much?? Likely strong union contracts they can’t get out of leading to excess capacity. Still I assume VW, Ford, Renault, Fiat, etc. have the same headaches and survive. Must be lame product.

    1. buu says:

      why not directly from LG?…

      1. Dav8or says:

        Because all those components are proprietary property of GM, not LG. LG does own the cells though. So PSA could go direct, but it would require a massive amount of engineering on their part and there are no doubt also patents to get around. Cheaper just to pay GM if they will sell.

        1. Mike says:

          PSA can replace all GM proprietary technologies fairly easily. What they are missing though is the drivetrain coming from LG.

          1. Dav8or says:

            I think the disconnect is that all of it is GM’s design including the drivetrain. LG is making it for them to their design and specs just as Magna might make interior components for them for example. LG can’t just go selling the Bolt drivetrain to somebody else.

            No PSA could contract with LG to make their drive train too, but they would have to design it themselves, or pay LG, or pay a third party to design it. I’m not sure why many people think EVs are simple and easy to make. The battery packs, the controllers, the transaxle, the motor all take serious engineering and LOTS of testing. The car buying public expects these systems to work flawless in all conditions for at least a decade or more and 100s of thousands of miles.

        2. buu says:

          IIRC here was article that electronics are LG, motor GM design but LG manufactured, and pack is GM assembled. I’m pretty sure LG have their own pack design to offer, and building slightlt different motor would be no problem, so no I don’t think PSA would need middleman.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            According to this article, “LG Chem… designed, engineered, and tested the Bolt EV’s battery system to performance and packaging specifications supplied by GM.” Apparently LG Chem and/or LG Electronics also collaborated on at least some of the power electronics.

            I don’t think it’s correct to say either that the Bolt’s powertrain is ether entirely a GM design or entirely a LG Electronics design. Certainly the overall design and specs were set by GM, but there was at least a certain amount of collaboration with LG Electronics over details of the design.

            1. Counter-Strike Cat says:

              GM for sure will have a special term with LG, that bans LG from selling the drivetrain to other manufacturers without consent from GM.

      2. JustWilliamPDX says:

        Simple. Because LG is supplying components designed by GM. But licencing agreements could no doubt be arranged under the right terms.

    2. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

      Opel is indeed a bit of a lame product in the way that there is nothing specific to Opel that gives it a hedge against competition. I mean VW products are bought because of slightly above average fit and finish and slightly above average technology, Renault and PSA cars are bought because they are French (thus bought by the French) and because their design is slightly less dull than many German designs. Fiat is the same, I mean bought for same reasons as Renault & PSA but by Italians. Opel on the contrary has nothing at all specific to its brand. They could be cheap then, that would be their competitive hedge but they are not really. Skoda’s are cheaper and by using VW technology often somewhat better Opel (handling & fuel economy). It is very difficult to sell cars in Europe with some US car maker DNA (GM). By reading comments here I note big differences between what Europeans expect from a car and what Americans expect from a car. To start with our road system is vastly different and fuel much more expensive. I owned an opel, it was a rather dangerous car once it was wet and would use about 0.7litre more per 100km than the equivalent VW and second hand value was a lot less than VW. Rather robust car but with too basic a technology. Now that was 8 years ago, it can be that they made progress but it is hard to change a brand reputation.

      1. John says:

        Opel is considered s*** in Europe. No one wants an Opel.

        1. Dav8or says:

          I can see that, I just wonder why that’s so hard to turn around?

        2. 3pete says:

          John

          Opel is one of Europes best selling brands. With 1.2million vehicles sold last year.

      2. Joe says:

        Lol. Only a smaller part of the Renault and Peugeot Citroen are bought by French people. Yes they have a higher market share in France but most of the production is purchased outside of France.

      3. Priusmaniac says:

        Of course French and Italians tend to buy more Renault and Fiat respectively but they also buy other brands and in Benelux Opel and Ford are very respected brands that make good vehicles. The Opel Vectra and Ford Mondeo have had a lot of success but the brands need to show their commitment to go forward and come up with new cars especially obviously long range ev sedan which are the image carriers of a brand that also allow to sell the other vehicles. If Ford or GM sell a long range ev sedan, I am pretty sure they will sell it well and other ev derivatives of it as well. It is just that they need to get moving instead of watching on the sidelines.

    3. 3pete says:

      Dav8or

      All the European brands have to deal with a different set of regulations in every country. High labor costs, too many factories, and too many brands. Over the past 20 years a number of companies were in real financeial trouble. The smaller brands were bought out. The larger brands were bailed out.and the strong labor unions never gave Opel the same wage concessions they gave the European companies.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        That is just not true. There was no bail out at all in Europe, that was only in the US. In Europe there was a lot of concentration with mainly VW, Peugeot and Fiat buying other brands. Ford also bought Volvo at a time until it was purchased by Geely. Labor unions never did any brand a favor GM, VW or Renault.

        1. Kdawg says:

          “There was no bail out at all in Europe”
          ——-
          Here’s just one example

          “German Government Announces Auto Industry Financial Support Package”
          https://www.ihs.com/country-industry-forecasting.html?id=106595963

        2. 3pete says:

          14% of PSA is still owned by the French Government.

    4. wavelet says:

      PSA already have detailed electric strategy, based on a cooperation with Chinese maker DongFeng though I don’t know how much investment they’ve already made:
      http://insideevs.com/psa-announces-450-km-270-mile-electric-vehicle-to-arrive-in-2019-plus-6-other-evs/
      I know people with (non-EV) cars based on the EMP2 platform, and it makes an excellent basis for a BEV/PHEV.

      in addition, PSA already have the rebadged i-MiEV, the e-Mehari which already selling in France,
      http://insideevs.com/1000-citroen-e-mehari-to-be-sold-annually-for-e25000-without-batteries/
      and the DS division has its own plans:
      http://insideevs.com/psas-ds-e-tense-electric-supercar-inches-closer-to-production/

      Granted, PSA’s plan are a bit slow (2019 for most of these cars), but I don’t see how a one-off model designed & assembled in the US and most of whose drivetrain’s produced in Korea is going to help them — PSA is mostly an EMEA/South America group. It’s not as if there was a European factory doing even final assembly for the Ampera-E.

    5. Stewie80 says:

      GM dictates to Opel the architecture of engine and vehicle carlines w/o letting Opel follow its own strategy. This lack of decision making of Opel and wrong strategy is leading to multiple inefficiencies that in the end of the day cause low profit or losses.

  4. ffbj says:

    Well, I think the deal will go through, not sure about whether that will kill the Ampera-E, but if you guys think it will, I have no reason to question that.

  5. georgeS says:

    This just out today:

    “GM shares could go 35% higher” as a result of ditching Opel

    http://www.barrons.com/articles/gm-shares-could-drive-35-higher-1487399193?mod=BOL_hp_highlight_2

    1. Dav8or says:

      I believe that. Their European operations are huge drag on their corporate earnings. They really are the dead weight.

      1. R.S says:

        In the end they will have 250 million dollars more, without Opel, that isn’t really worth a 35% increase in value. I think the shareholders either hope for the money GM will get for Opel, which might not be very much, or that they will merge with someone else, which I doubt too.

        In the end its a stupid move by GM. Soon there will be no small cars left, brining them to the same situation as they were before bankruptcy.

        1. squanto says:

          I fully agree. I also believe that it is not a smart move from GM to sell Opel and rather short sighted. They will lose economies of scale for their engineering. And I believe with selling Opel to PSA they will face a new competitor on their NA market sooner than later.

        2. Dav8or says:

          Ummm… all the small GM cars we buy now here in the US like the Spark and the Sonic, all came out of the Korean Daewoo branch of GM, not Opel. Ditching Opel/Vauxhall sacrifices nothing other than a place in the European market.

          1. squanto says:

            Not quite as there are a couple of Buick models that derive from Opel products. Buick is an important division for GM in China.

          2. R.S says:

            And those two are pretty horrible cars to be honest (I do hope SparkEV doesn’t read this).

            I still think it’s abad idea, once the economy cools down again, which it will eventually, GM will sit on their vehicles with an average $40k selling price, while Hyundai will sell theirs, with an average of $25k. It will also be bad for the Bolt, since Europe should be it’s prime market.

    2. DonC says:

      Or 35% lower. GM has some PITA “activist” aka short term investor who is applying pressure. That may account for the timing.

      1. 3pete says:

        No, the only other dark spot on GMs balance sheet is South America, and Economic conditions there are improving. Partly due to the rising demand for Lithium used in Electric car batteries.

        Thank You EV fans.

    3. ffbj says:

      Yeah, that’s just financial page hyperbole. GM isn’t going up 35% if they sell Opel.

  6. tosho says:

    Opel could buy batteries and electric motors from anyone. And everything else they should know how to build. If they are serious about EVs they don’t need the Bolt.

    1. Dav8or says:

      I think that is a simplistic view. There is a lot more technology and knowledge involved than just hooking a bunch of batteries up to an electric motor. Opel/PSA could go it alone, but that costs a lot of $$$.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Good grief, yes!

        Saying that some other company could just throw together some components to make a competitively selling BEV as well designed as the Bolt EV, and as profitable, is as clueless as the Tesla founders’ idea that they could build cars like Silicon Valley builds computers.

        The new car market is highly competitive. For a company to make a profit making and selling cars, it not only has to design and engineer them properly, it has to price them competitively. If it was easy to make and sell a 200+ mile, highway-capable BEV in large numbers (beyond mere compliance car numbers) in first-world countries at a “semi-affordable” price, then someone other than GM would have already done that.

        1. Spider-Dan says:

          You must be mistaken, because I have been informed many times in the comments of this and other EV sites that the only reason cheap long-range EVs aren’t available right now is because of the global automaker conspiracy to prop up ICE cars.

          And as for why Tesla (or literally anyone else) hasn’t already started delivering these easily buildable, affordable, awesome cars… hey, look over there!

          1. Just_Chris says:

            PSA could build a 200 mile ev if they wanted to, not because it’s easy but because they are a massive multinational car company that has been building ev’s since the very beginning of the modern ev roll out. The challenge, imo, is not the technology aspect. The challenge is the drive and ambition to want to be in this market. PSA, as far as I can see, is pretty indifferent to the whole ev market. They have a few things on the market but show no sign of wanting to sell serious numbers of ev’s. Combine them with Opel and Vauxhall and you create the worlds most mediocre car company. I can’t see them taking on the bolt or the volt. If they do, they’ll be made in the USA and shipped to the eu where they’ll be sold in pitifully small numbers.

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            @Spider-Dan:

            😆

            Thanks, I appreciate your comments (altho some of the less well informed may be confused over the lack of any “/sarcasm” tag).

            Similarly, we’ve been assured in at least a few posts that the “real” cost of li-ion batteries is far lower than the average market price, and people can “prove” this is true because they were able to find some factory second batteries, or returns that the manufacturer can’t legally sell at full price, at a discounted price on ebay!

            EV advocates are as susceptible to wishful thinking as any other group of people.

  7. DonC says:

    Lots can happen. If the talks have been ongoing since 2012 nothing is a slam dunk.

    Ford is doing well in Europe so one wonders why GM can’t. Might just be historical issues including plant locations.

    In any event, hard to see GM agreeing to transferring the Volt/Bolt technology to PSA or getting out of the EU completely.

    The news that GM is seriously considering an all electric future in Europe is exciting!

    1. Dav8or says:

      Ford isn’t doing all that well. They recently closed a factory in Germany and it was the first car factory in Germany to close since WWII. The unions and government tried to stop them, but close it did. GM/Opel needs to do the same. Close some factories, but I suspect the unions are just too strong there to do that. So GM will sell Opel to PSA and PSA will close the factories because they won’t have a union contract that forces them to keep it open. just a guess.

      1. squanto says:

        Ford did not close a German factory. It was GM that closed down Opel’s Bochum plant being the first to be closed down after WWII indeed. Taking into account how much people in the Ruhr area, Europe’s most densily populated area, identified with Opel I can imagine that this action has hit market share in Germany for awhile (market share fell from 9 to 7% from 2009 to 2012 recovering very slowly). It was a plant in Belgium that Ford closed down with the effect that the new Ford Fusion labelled Ford Mondeo could only be introduced in Europe with a delay of 2 years for there was no production facility there anymore for the new model.

    2. 3pete says:

      Ford has pushed heavily into Europes comercial market. Its making money selling trucks and vans. I do believe they are still loosing money on the auto side of the business.

  8. vadik says:

    Didn’t Opel just plan to import rebadged Bolts directly from the US?

    Why would PSA not want to do the very same thing?

    1. Dav8or says:

      I would think they would as a stop gap until they can develop their own product.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Since GM was (according to InsideEVs’ estimate) only planning to make and sell about 5000 units of the Ampera-e in Europe during the first year of production, does it really matter that much?

    If GM decides to start marketing the car in Europe to actually meet the strong demand that it will almost certainly find there, assuming they don’t price it out of the market as they did with the Ampera (Volt), then I’m sure they can find some badge to make it under. In fact, considering the weak reputation of Ampera, they might do well to create a brand new brand 🙂 to sell EVs in Europe… and perhaps elsewhere.

    1. 3pete says:

      Most of the EVs sold in Europe have smaller battery packs. On the PHEV side the range becomes pathetic like the original plug-in Prius.

      1. R.S says:

        Actually the European EVs on sale have more range than those on sale in the US. I can only think of two EVs right now that are continent exclusive, not mentioning the iMiev clones, the Fiat 500e and the Zoe. And the Zoe has almost Bolt range, probably around 180 miles EPA.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I’d like to see some side-by-side comparisons from a truly independent third-party tester. I’m very far from convinced that what you say is true.

          Official European ratings for fuel/energy efficiency are notoriously inflated, both in their MPG ratings and the EV range ratings. Contrariwise, the EPA ratings for EV ranges since circa 2012 seem to be pretty much on target.

          http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1091877_why-european-gas-mileage-ratings-are-so-high–and-often-wrong

  10. Roy_H says:

    When this came up years ago, IIRC GM was planning to increase its marketing of the Chevy brand in Europe and most certainly both the Volt and Bolt would still be available there even if PSA decided to kill the Ampera and Ampera-e.

    1. Dav8or says:

      They pulled Chevy out of Europe.

      It didn’t work. Europe is tough market. It’s old and established with lots of nationalistic prejudice and bias. They are also more discerning I think because buying a car there is a bigger deal than it is here. People here change their car every couple of years just because they are bored with it, or new and shiny comes out. Over there I think it’s more of a buy and hold strategy, so one tends to choose carefully. Even Toyota struggles over there.

  11. unlucky says:

    I doubt GM would give much of a license to the Bolt technology if they sold to PSA in Europe. I think it would be more like Saab where they had the rights to use their technology in already existing vehicles but nothing further.

    So I think barring a separate clause the Ampera-e would continue.

    If the Ampera-e were killed it would be because GM was looking to export Chevys to Europe. And I don’t really see that happening immediately, outside of the Corvette.

    No, I expect the Ampera-e would continue in its existing form. What happens when the next Bolt comes out in 5 years I dunno.

  12. Priusmaniac says:

    PSA is essentially in partnership with the Total oil company to continue producing petrol cars as long as possible so that Total can continue to sell its oil. So an Opel purchase by PSA would be bad for any ev vehicles Bolt included. Opel would be much better remaining with GM and proceeding with its ev changeover plan.

  13. John Riley says:

    Also what has happened to the Generation 2 Ampera especially with PHEV sales in Europe increasing quicker than BEV sales? Especially as it is well ahead of anything else on offer from the other European car manufactures.

    1. R.S says:

      GM pulled it from the market long before it got anywhere close to get a shot at good sales. They didn’t reintroduce the second generation either, so I think it wouldn’t have made it to Europe in any case.

  14. Erik Nicolaysen says:

    The Bolt was engineered in Korea

    1. Dav8or says:

      If you want to believe that, sure go ahead. However, the truth is, it was an international cooperation with people working in Korea and America, but directed in America. Most of the engineering was carried out in Michigan. The design did come out of the Korean design studio, but that studio and the design for the Bolt was lead by an Englishman that used to work for Jaguar.

      The popular belief seems to be that GM headquarters called up Daewoo and LG Chem and said- “Please make a great electric car.” and they went to work and Bolt was born. This far, far from the reality.

  15. R.S says:

    It would be such a stupid idea, that it might be true. Design a subcompact hatchback and sell it anywhere besides Europe, where subcompact hatchbacks are a thing.

    What is next? A full size pickup that won’t be sold in the US?

  16. Counter-Strike Cat says:

    The claim at all is absolute nonsense. Opel has already launched massive press coverage for the Ampera-E. If they would stop the Ampera-E now, Opel will get slaughtered all over by the press and massive boycott will make them losing sales of all other cars.

    It’s more the opposite. With PSA ownership, the Ampera-E production will come to Europe with significant higher volume.