Chevrolet to quit Europe by 2016; Opel/Vauxhall go mainstream, again

GM has thrown in the towel and decided that its two-prong strategy for mainstream cars in Europe will end by 2016.

Currently GM markets Chevrolet as its entry-level brand with a range of Korea-sourced models, such as the Spark, Aveo (our Barina), Cruze, Trax, Orlando and Captiva. Chevrolet Europe also sells the US-sourced Volt, Camaro and Corvette. To complement this GM has tried to push Opel/Vauxhall upmarket.

Unfortunately German and UK buyers have had a hard time seeing Opel/Vauxhall as upmarketish brands in the same league as Volkswagen, which performed the same move by slotting in Czech brand Skoda underneath it.

The announcement conveniently went out around the time the world’s motoring press were focused on the reveal of the sixth generation Ford Mustang.

General Motors has tried to put a positive spin on the whole saga by saying that it will focus Chevrolet Europe on recognised American muscle cars, such as the Camaro and Corvette. GM says that the cost of shutting down Chevy’s operations in both western and eastern Europe, including compensating the 1,000-strong dealer body, will be between US$700 million and US$1 billion. Chevrolet will continue operating in Russia and aligned countries where it’s value-for-money proposition has been more readily accepted.

To partially compensate the company will redouble its efforts in establishing Cadillac in Europe as true competitor to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but in truth the brand that was once the “standard of the world” has a long way to go to even attain Lexus sales levels.

Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]