SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
439 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I spotted this in my news clipper service. Too bad to see Opel faltering. They make nice stuff.<P>GM's Opel claims another victim<BR>Hendry resigns as losses mount, is expected to be replaced by European industry veteran<P><BR> <P>By Daniel Howes / The Detroit News<P> FRANKFURT, Germany -- In the global auto industry's pantheon of tough jobs, Robert W. Hendry's most recent assignment probably ranks among the toughest. <BR> As chairman of General Motors Corp.'s Adam Opel AG unit in Germany, the 56-year-old Detroit native was charged with bridging the stubborn cultural gap between Detroit and Germany, boosting declining market share and reviving profits in a Europe increasingly smitten with premium brands and tiny, diesel-powered cars. <P><BR>Hendry<P> <P> It didn't turn out the way GM or Hendry hoped. Market share slid even more. Losses mounted. And speculation that Hendry would -- or should -- quit began in the German press soon after he arrived at company headquarters in Ruesselsheim, a gritty industrial town west of Frankfurt. <BR> Little more than two years into a five-year contract, Hendry had enough. In a private meeting during the Christmas holidays, Hendry told GM Chairman John F. Smith Jr. and President Rick Wagoner Jr. that he wanted to ask Opel's governing supervisory board to accept his resignation at its March meeting. His exit was publicly announced Wednesday. <BR> The fall of Hendry, long considered one of Smith's go-to guys, culminates yet another chapter in the continuing GM-Opel saga. The past five years have been marked by internecine sniping, finger-pointing and pining for the days when Opel was considered a legitimate contender to unseat Volkswagen as the market leader in Germany -- if not Europe. <BR> By Hendry's own account, his departure will clear the way for what his critics obviously want: a European industry veteran who speaks German. Hendry's leaving is intended to take responsibility for Opel's losses and end what he calls "the constant barrage of stories that really hurt the company. I would have done it six months ago if a suitable candidate had been here." <BR> Hendry's resignation, official only when approved by the supervisory board, paves the way for a European to lead Opel for the first time in more than a decade. The most likely successor is former BMW AG manufacturing chief Carl-Peter Forster, who will be expected to reverse a slide that began in the mid-90s and then accelerated despite a white-hot European market. <BR> If anything GM is in danger of becoming a second-tier player in Europe. Its alliance with Italy's Fiat Auto SpA is a gambit to reverse its declining fortunes, but in the short-term GM's European empire -- with Opel at its heart -- is shaping up to be the Detroit automaker's sickest operation worldwide. <BR> "It's undeniable that it's going to be tough for Opel for the foreseeable future," said John Casesa, auto analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York. "Hendry was sent into a bad situation that was not of his making." <BR> That is a familiar executive predicament in today's auto industry. Executive careers are made and broken by product and strategic decisions made years before, often amid different economic and market conditions. In many ways, Hendry is reaping the bitter harvest sown when GM began its globalization push five years ago. <BR> "I've been in this business 40 years and I know when someone is doing a good job," said Hans Barth, chairman of the Opel supervisory board. "Believe me, he's one of the best." <BR> Yet by any measure, Opel has faltered under Hendry. The problems became so severe that speculation has arisen in the German press that GM was considering spinning off Opel. Hendry promptly issued a statement denying such a plan. <BR> Opel's losses last year totaled $403 million, at current exchange rates, its worst financial performance in decades. Market share in Germany, Opel's home market, slumped to 12.2 percent from 13.8 percent in 1999 -- far from what Hendry predicted when he became chairman on Nov. 1, 1998. In Europe as a whole, Opel's performance wasn't much better. <BR> "As chairman, I must take responsibility for these short-term results," Hendry said. "I have to admit that at the start of my tenure I had expected to show evidence of our turnaround more quickly, anticipating positive share and profit clearly by now." <BR> Instead, the German market slumped, down 11 percent last year from 1999. Even well-regarded cars such as the compact Astra and subcompact Corsa failed to grab precious market share from rivals. Rising gasoline prices, already hovering near $4 a gallon, pushed demand for diesel-powered cars higher. But Opel wasn't prepared and would-be consumers went elsewhere. <BR> Nor did Opel and GM anticipate Europe's dramatic shift to premium brands, particularly in Germany. Proud of its heritage as maker of reliable cars for average Europeans, Opel's position in key European markets suffered as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi wooed customers once considered Opel buyers. <BR> "The whole domestic side of the market has been difficult for everyone," said Joseph Harrigan, analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston in London. "The sales have gone either to premium brands or the low end." <BR> Neither segment is Opel territory, nor are they likely to be. Yet Hendry's successor will be expected to do what GM management has so far failed to achieve -- restoring the luster of the Opel lightning bolt. <P>
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,997 Posts
That's not all. I read today in an English mag that Vauxhaul is getting canned in favor of the Opel badge. The differences were nominal anyway, but that's two brands GM has canned in several weeks (Oldsmobile and Vauxhall).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,997 Posts
BTW, that same auto mag had a review of the Astra coupe designed by Bertone. The car is really very nice, as are the whole Astra lineup. Too bad we don't get it here in the states. It'd be a good competitor to the Civics and Jettas out there amongst the import set.<P>The car might make an interesting Saab 9-2, but I think I'd rather see Opel go global and begin sales of cars here in the states. With just about all European import brands up in sales this year by a significan margin, GM could do worse than bringing in their German marque.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
I'd love to find a Lotus Vauxhall Carlton/Lotus Opel Omega to bring here to the states. Anyone else know about this bad-ass sedan?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
As far as I know, the Lotus Carlton/Omega is still faster than the present generation M5 and 6 speed Audi S8. It truly belongs in the same category of elite supercars that were ahead of their time like the Porsche 959 (1987, 450hp, 0-60 3.6) and Mercedes 300SL (1950s, 160mph) though it is nowhere near as well-known.<p>[This message has been edited by onikage (edited 01-25-2001).]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,706 Posts
I have a old Road and Track article about the Lotus Omega. I will try to dig it up tonite if I can, and post some info.<P>-Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
439 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The Carlton was a great car. I just don't get why GM sold Lotus anyway. With all the numbers of brands they have, including Fiat, they don't really have a sports car brand.<P>Perhaps not as cool as the Carlton, but still pretty bad ass are the Holdens. Those Australian cars are crazy with LT1 engines and 6-speed trannys.<p>[This message has been edited by Evolvo (edited 02-09-2001).]
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top