The German brand Opel, which was reborn under French leadership, is back in Russia! The sales of the two models start from today. Now more about everything.
I traveled to Germany last week to meet with the leadership of the Opel car brand, including President Michael Loscheller. However, everyone calls him Michael. "We are back, and we are not going to leave anymore" - this was the main outline of the big boss's speech (in all senses - his height, it seems, is 2 meters), who, before the transfer of Opel from GM to PSA in 2017, worked in the German auto giant CFO.
Under the leadership of Loscheller, the company has achieved positive economic performance, with operating income in the first half of 2019 reaching a record 700 million euros. Production costs per vehicle were reduced by 367 Euros. The brand holds 5.7% of the passenger car market in Europe and 4.5% in LCV. The Germans also believe in the Russian market - they expect that in 2020 it will show an increase of 5% (1.8 million new cars), and by 2030 it will be released by 3 million cars annually.
The Opel plant in Rüsselheim is a city-forming enterprise
To my question, what exactly is German in the new Opel, and what specific tasks are set for the Germans besides the production of cars on French platforms, Michael answered very specifically: the design center is working at full strength, so Opel and Vauxhall cars will be exclusively German in design, and in design, even despite the use of common platforms with PSA, it is Opel that will develop all PSA light commercial vehicles in the future, Opel engineers are developing for the concern a new family of four-cylinder gasoline engines, manual transmissions, power plants on hydrogen fuel cells and other power sources for future models, driver assistants (parking, active safety, warnings, autopilots), as well as seats. Besides,the Opel guys will be responsible for the software industrialization and test automation processes.
Opel is back with two models and there is neither the new Astra nor the beautiful Insignia among them. The specifics of the agreement between GM and PSA make it impossible to sell on our market Opel models developed under GM, so we are talking only about the front-wheel drive crossover Grandland X and the passenger minibus Zafira Life, built on the PSA EMP2 platform. In the near future, the Russian model range will be joined by the Vivaro commercial minibus. In a year and a half we will have a hybrid all-wheel drive version of the GrandLand X Hybrid4, which will be the first German compact hybrid SUV. The petrol turbo engine is 1.6 + 2 electric motors with a total output of 300 hp, and a power reserve of 59 is purely electric. Not at all as utopian for our market as a pure electric car.
In general, Opel promises to launch one new model every year. The closest premiere will be the Opel Corsa compact hatch built on the CMP modular platform, which for the first time in the history of the brand will have an all-electric version of the Corsa-e. 136 hp, 50 kW battery with 8 years or 160,000 km warranty, 337 km WLTP range. All models of the brand will have fully electric versions by 2024.
At the new Opel headquarters, in its design center, the head of the future development of the brand Friedhelm Enger spoke about the future of the German brand, which is now being reborn under French leadership.
Opel was owned by GM from 1929 to 2017 - almost 90 years, which is a really radical change. Hopefully for the best. If anything, the Opel GT X Experimental compact electric crossover concept gives cause for optimism.
This spectacular electric car is, in fact, just a mock-up, but it reflects all the main trends of the brand: the transition to EV, the active use of self-driving, the development of assistants (for example, here the camera itself determines the driver's data and automatically adjusts the landing), the rejection of rear-view mirrors in the use of cameras, new ergonomic standard - modular chairs, with integrated speakers and so on.
Briefly about the current cars that I was able to test on the roads of Germany. In short, because the embargo is still in effect on detailed tests (although car sales start today, December 16, 2019).
The Grandland X is structurally a close relative of the Peugeot 3008. At the same time, the car has an absolutely distinctive exterior and interior design.
In general, inside and out, this is one hundred percent Opel, as we are used to seeing it.
Including his behavior on the autobahns - quite German.
The car is produced at the plant in Eisenach. Sales open three configurations - all with a 1.6 petrol turbo engine (150 hp and 240 Nm) and a 6-speed automatic Aisin (0-100 announced in 9.5 s).
The cost of the basic version - with LED optics, heated steering wheel, windshield and all seats, 8-inch multimedia, as well as steel crankcase protection - 1,799,000 rubles, the most sophisticated version of Innovation with anatomical chairs approved by the Association of German Physicians, floodlights LED headlights instead of reflector ones, an all-round visibility system, a panoramic roof and so on, is estimated at 2,199,000 rubles.
Zafira Life is the twin brother of the Citroen Space Tourer / Peugeot Traveler models, the difference is mainly in the logos.
The car is already being assembled in Kaluga, in two body lengths (M and L), prices for a richly equipped basic version of Innovation (two-zone climate, Webasto, xenon, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring system, 7-inch multimedia screen, keyless entry, etc. .) start from the mark of 2 549 900 (M) and 2 599 900 rubles (L).
The Cosmo version, which is available only in a long body, and includes electric side doors, leather seats, head-up display, remote control heater and much more, costs 2,999,900 rubles. The engine, like that of its brothers - 2.0 HDi, 150 hp. and AKP6.
Show car based on Zafira Life
Opel dealers start working in the following cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Ryazan and Stavropol.
I drove the Grandland X from Frankfurt to the plant in Eisenach, where the Grandland X is assembled. Now they produce 100,000 crossovers a year, working in two shifts. The volume of production will soon be increased - in Europe, demand for the German crossover is growing, and now it is in the TOP-10 of compact crossovers. More than 180,000 vehicles have been sold since autumn 2017.
At the factory, I became interested in the history of production, and on my own I found an old factory workshop, in which a museum was equipped. The history of the plant is extremely interesting - before the Second World War, BMWs were made here.
After Eisenach ended up in eastern Germany, here. Continued to make BMW, without the permission of the West German brand. A scandal erupted, the models were renamed to EMW, with a similar logo) then under the EMW brand in Eisenach they began to produce IFA F9 - the development of the design of the pre-war DKW F8, a revolutionary front-wheel drive subcompact with a two-stroke engine of three cylinders.
Over time, from this design, the famous Wartburg was born with a partially plastic, outwardly modern body. Cars of this brand were produced until the end of the eighties with almost no design changes.
In the picture, my colleague Sergei Arbuzov is studying the Wartburg coupe, which was developed in 1968, which never entered the series. I will tell you more about the museum in one of the following publications.
It was no less interesting to visit the Opel factory museum in Rüsselheim. All signs here are only in German, it is impossible to get here from the street.
A real treasure trove, where unique devices are collected (I am sure you have already identified some from the photo), embodying the history of the brand and the global automotive industry as a whole. One story about an Opel Omega with a Corvette engine is worth something …
I'll tell you more about museums a little later, test drives, including in video format, will be in January, but in the meantime, they will look forward to your questions and comments. What do you think of Opel's return? What are the market prospects for Grandland X and Zafira Life?