Blog : Why JLR could do wonders with Vauxhall…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

It’s funny the things you hear when you’re out and about, going about your business. Today involved meeting some industry types and, while siting in the boardroom waiting for the main agenda of the day, an interesting titbit came my way. ‘I hear a rumour from a very well-placed source that Jaguar Land Rover is considering buying Vauxhall,’ this industry executive said.

Now that is very interesting indeed. Because it’s not the first time I’ve heard this – nor is it the first time I’ve expounded this very idea.

Rewind to the day that the PSA-Opel/Vauxhall deal was made public, and I was in the fortunate position of being able to speak to a number of Vauxhall and Opel types. It was at the Geneva Motor Show, and I was upstairs in the Opel/Vauxhall lounge. Not only that, but it was at a good time – the CEO of PSA Group, Carlos Tavares, was standing on stage telling the world why his company was in the process of buying General Motor’s European carmaking division.

Opel confident, but what of Vauxhall?

While he addressed the crowd, I looked down from above, and watched the address – alongside me, an Opel executive stood. ‘You must be very excited,’ I said to the young blade from Russelsheim. ‘Oh, yes,’ he replied, chest puffed out. ‘We will be very good indeed for PSA. Opel will be a great fit in the portfolio.’

Minutes earlier, I’d been speaking to Rory Harvey, the Chairman and Managing Director of Vauxhall. You can read what he had to say in my piece on the CAR website, but somehow, his chest wasn’t puffed out in the same way. He was very positive, of course, as were the rest of the Vauxhall PR team in attendance – but, somehow, they didn’t look as relaxed as their German colleagues. Fielding all those questions about the future of Luton and Ellesmere Port must have been very tiring indeed.

The American view

At the show, I’d also caught up with Richard Truett, our man in the USA. There’s been much discussion about PSA’s deal. He said that he thought that Vauxhall possibly had less value for PSA than Opel, and that it would make perfect sense for JLR to look at taking on the Griffin. He’s explained why this is a very good idea for JLR in his blog on the Automotive News website – and you can’t argue with his logic.

Given that JLR wants to crack a million cars a year – and wants to do it at speed – you can see how a new brand in the portfolio would make sense. Ellesmere Port, especially, would add much-needed production capacity for Jaguar Land Rover and, as brilliant new products such as the Jaguar I-Pace, E-Pace and Range Rover Velar clearly demonstrate, the company is on a roll making cars that people actually want.

How to make a million…

Last year, the company built approaching 600,000 cars a year – and that’s still some way off the magic million. So, adding Vauxhall to the portfolio would surely be a good way of adding volume, and doing it using a brand that’s not tainted like so many in its back catalogue. Richard and I both thought Rover could have been that brand, but the chaps at JLR went a long way in telling us that they disagreed…

Could a plan involving Ellesmere Port, Luton, and a conversation with PSA and GM over licensing agreements on the excellent new Insignia Grand Sport and Sports Tourer (below) make sense? That, as well as a deal over the big-selling Corsa and Astra, may be in the offing – in lieu of co-developing a new range of cars. And this could possibly happen with the help of Tata.

Given how closely JLR engineers are working with Tata on its future model line-up right now (so I’ve been told, anyway), it’s looking like an outside bet. But it’s one that might be worth putting an each-way on, if you catch my drift. Certainly, there’s a bit of a buzz about the whole thing right now, and it’s slowly gaining momentum.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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73 Comments

  1. I think Vauxhall has value to PSA due not just to the size of the dealer network, established second place in the sales charts, new class-leading models and two smallish but efficient factories outside the EU, but also because not all countries swoon over German models and British brands have become far more desirable in recent years. In particular, it would make sense to export or rather market Vauxhall in all right-hand-drive countries rather than Opel, if only to avoid putting Opel badges on right-hand-drive models.

    However, Ireland is a very strong Opel market, but it is just a small market. Vauxhalls traditionally sold well in Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries and would do well I think in Japan, South Africa Cyprus and many other places. They haven’t been able to market anything abroad for thirty years but the potential is there once let loose from GM’s shackles.

    JLR would be better off developing Rover starting with two-wheel-drive versions of the smaller Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

  2. JLR needs Ellesmere Port and Luton like a hole in the head especially with Brexit on the horizon. Spend the money on ground-up factories in Europe with EU access (like the one in Slovakia). Volume isn’t everything and there is still a way to go in engineering and build quality. Jaguar volumes are still way short of the target needed for efficient use of existing facilities. In fact, hiving Jaguar off would probably be a good move (said as an ex-Land Rover man who remembers being shackled to Rover cars!).

  3. “Richard and I both thought Rover could have been that brand, but the chaps at JLR went a long way in telling us that they disagreed…”

    Care to elaborate on what they said?

  4. Land Rover and Jaguar can get to a million units without Vauxhall and by around 2020. The new Velar and E-Pace will take them to 750,000 units. The Defender range will probably add another 150,000. The remaining 100,000 will probably come from the I-Pace and a large Jaguar SUV.

    Vauxhall could be of use to TATA but not JLR. As long as they could replace existing models with equally good cars it would add at least 250,000 units per annum to TATA Motors. But to be a sucess they would need to grow it quickly in key international markets. That’s a tough ask and it could burn money for a decade. On the upside, they have few factories so could supplement production for overseas markets in Eastern Europe and India.

    A better idea would be for TATA to acquire or join hands with a company like Honda to make a go of a brand like Vauxhall.

  5. I think TATA would probably look at Vauxhall as a possibility, and economies of scale do make sense. However, this looks good to TATA, and the only affect for JLR could be the sharing of development costs with a TATA-owned Vauxhall. JLR are a long way off being able to take on such a big commitment when it is still in catch up mode to it’s German counterparts.

    • Not disagreeing but one of the area of “catch up” with the Germans is in producing small and medium cars BMW has mini, I series and 3 series which are pitched more or less in Vauxhall territory. While Mercedes and Audi have a similar range of small to medium product.

      There are definite pros and cons of moving into this market. I think that JLR are not ready for that yet. Personal opinion obviously.

    • Not if you have a non-top spec car – check out the side view mess around the rear quarter window blank – very poor.

  6. I think it’s a bit of a far-fetched idea, and it is all conjecture at the moment – but, on the other hand, once you pick it apart there are definitely plusses. As has been said above, Ellesmere Port and Luton are looking very vulnerable at the moment because of Brexit (and that’s before you look at PSA’s previous track record in the UK with Linwood and Ryton) – therefore this could be the lifeline they’ve been looking for.

    If it did, the most likely scenario would be JLR getting Ellesmere Port (it’s just across the water from Halewood, which is a good fit), and the van plant in Luton would get divested to Renault, who own the other half of the Vivaro/Trafic venture anyway.

    • Indeed, that seems like a very plausible scenario to me as well. There’s nothing to say that the Vauxhall brand, the dealer network and the two UK plants are by necessity part of the same parcel, each of the four might be sold off or retained by PSA independently of each other. I am virtually certain that PSA is not going to give away the Vauxhall dealer network – if need be, it could be rebranded to Opel, that name still has recognition value in the UK.

  7. JLR need Vauxhall like the Vatican needs stripper poles.

    If JLR want ‘volume’ and a purchase of a perceived ‘British’ brand was deemed important for the portfolio (I personally think Saab would have been a perfect sub brand for Jag) then they could do worse than taking on the MG brand.

    As most China market analysts will agree that MG is a mediocre proposition as best, sales are low (compared with SAIC Roewe) and Longbridge is a multi-year loss-making factory lease headache for the Asian mothership. Apart from the Design Centre then Longbrigde is a expensive and unproductive piece of real estate for SAIC

    The sale of MG brand to JLR (including the transfer of the Longbridge lease and a short-term deal for existing models sold under licence) would give JLR some expansion space in the UK and China; additionally a lower-end brand that would not rob sales from Jag or Landy.

    A JLR ‘MG’ range of cheaper fwd cars could be the growth they need/want, a FWD iQA (Jag XE) or LR MS (DiscoSport) derived 2/4 door B/C segment MG range and perhaps a smaller 4 cylinder rwd sports model spun off the F-Type (that could be a MG ‘G-Type’) could benefit the business – but, then again, the cost of development and marketing may be better spent on a softroader or minivan version of the F-Pace/Velar/XE. Not sure what to call that one, maybe a Rover? Perhaps a Rover Viking minivan by LandRover powered by Jaguar.

    If I was in a big corner office at JLR, I would seriously look at MG – can you see SAIC not taking leave of MG to focus on Roewe?

    • If only we could get MG back in safe hands! I’ve occasionally thought that ‘what if’ about returning MG to these shores after its downright abuse by SAIC. But don’t forget that most of the MG Longbridge production site has been released back to the land owners from whom it was rented, so I expect the buildings will be demolished and housing will replace it.

      In terms of JLR buying Vauxhall, I can’t see it happening. However, if the factories were to be closed by PSA, then that’s one hell of an opportunity to build more JLR vehicles.

      I think Tata and JLR really could do something with MG, but not just 2-seater sports cars – there simply isn’t a big enough market. If MG3 and MG5 (the 6 being a flop) were to be made available in the short term as kits, and ‘sportified’ as per the MG Zed range, as they should have been from day one, it’s a reasonable short-term option whilst JLR sorted their own longer-term market ideas at the lower end of the market. I really think I ought to wake up now… but it was a nice thought.

      • Unfortunately, that’s very true Graham re SAIC abusing MG. They’ve a bit of a reputation for the abusing car companies they acquire.

        SsangYong Motors were lucky to get shut of them, but I can’t see them letting go of the MG brand to be honest.

  8. Funnily enough, the Insignia hatch looks like an XF from behind. What could be a deal killer is that 95% of Vauxhall engineering design is done in Germany – UK only does production engineering and Supplier Quality Assurance. The guys at Gaydon have got enough to do already.

  9. The stat that caught my eye in Keith’s article on the CAR website was that 98% of Insignia sales are to business customers. Only 2% are sold to private buyers!

    I always assumed that cars in the Mondeo/Insignia class sold maybe 70-75% to fleets, but I didn’t realise the Insignia was so dependent on business customers. The discounts must be immense.

    • Only an idiot would order a new one from a showroom, pay over £20k for the privilege and then lose £10k in depreciation the minute they drive it off the forecourt – clearly this doesn’t bother the 2% who obviously do exactly this! Essentially, that’s why private buyers, who want to buy this size/type of car new, go shopping at Audi or BMW these days.

      Maybe that’s why most Vauxhall garages seem to have have numerous delivery-mileage Insignias at almost half list price sitting prominently to discourage private buyers from even contemplating a new one. It may also explain why GM’s European arm has lost so much money that they’ve thrown in the towel and sold up to Peugeot.

      • Agree with you about the depreciation, but does every other non-premium manufacturer have the same dependence on fleet sales?

        Has every other manufacturer – apart from Audi/BMW/Merc/JLR – effectively given up on selling anything bigger than a Focus to private customers?

        I’d be interested to know the fleet/retail sales mix for other similar-sized cars like the Mondeo and Avensis.

  10. My first thought on hearing of PSA buying GM’s European outfit was that JLR should think hard about ‘buying’ Ellesmere Port as it must be close to needing capacity. It makes sense.

  11. If JLR were to buy anyone I’d suggest they look at Lotus. Lotus or even McLaren. Both companies have engineers in abundance which JLR could use. Both companies have production facilities for sports cars which Jaguar could use. Lotus has an interesting brand, McLaren is exceptional.

    Lotus could be available soon and Norfolk may be a good place to make the F-Type and a spin-off Elise.

  12. I don’t think JLR are interested in acquiring Vauxhall – Vauxhall’s not a luxury brand for starters. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but since this PSA acquisition of GM’s European arm (Vauxhall/Opel), Holden are ceasing car production from October in Australia and moving all Holden production to Germany.

    Indeed, judging by most, if not all, the companies PSA have taken over in the past whose names just simply vanished (Here’s the list of defunct famous car and vehicle names: Rootes Limited (60 per cent owned) Commer, Hillman, Humber, Karrier, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot, Chrysler Europe and Simca), I’d hold out very little hope for the Vauxhall brand to last into the next decade.

    • The brands on that list, save for the last three, had already vanished before PSA took over the European Chrysler operations, though.

  13. I have to agree with the comments posted by Mike Gould in relation to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and the idea of the company purchasing Vauxhall and/or the Ellesmere Port assembly plant.

    Part of the problem we have is that, despite JLR’s impressive financial performance since Tata acquired them in 2008, does the company have the financial, logistical and production resources to develop all-new models under a mainstream brand that can compete within a competitive life cycle? The answer is probably no.

    Likewise, despite my love of the Rover brand (which was briefly mentioned in the article), I genuinely do not believe JLR would be the right company to re-launch it given the huge financial resources it would require. Then there is the need for the company to have an unquestionable long-term commitment to nurturing the brand and product portfolio. JLR is simply too small to do this properly and with conviction.

    In addition, it would probably result in Rover, Vauxhall (or any other ‘suggested’ brand) playing an obvious ‘second fiddle’ to Jaguar or Land Rover in terms of product and brand aspirational status. Aspiration is now what helps to sell cars in bigger numbers and this can only be achieved in multi-brand companies through ‘clever discrimination’. I don’t believe JLR would be able to do this.

    Add in the seemingly negative attitude of some of management at JLR who are not confident to look beyond the current core brands, and the prospect of reviving an old brand or taking on another existing brand from another custodian means it is a non-starter.

    That said, having an additional brand does make sense in order to maintain some of the aspiration and exclusivity of Jaguar (which the brand needs to maintain). However, a ‘new’ brand would ideally need to follow one of two strategies:

    1) BMW’s strategy for MINI whereby it has its own design language through using new platform and body designs exclusive to that brand. Moreover, the models representing that brand would, in terms of size and price, still be allowed to overlap those for the entry-level BMW models.

    2) Volkswagen Audi Group’s strategy where there is substantial component sharing, including platforms and body structures, with the differentiation being down to body design and interior packaging, engine choices and clever brand nurturing and marketing strategies.

    Both options, although desirable, would require massive financial and manpower resources, and long-term commitment to brand and product nurturing. This level of commitment could potentially impact on the current and long-term needs for the current Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover brands which need to maintain the greatest profit-making opportunities.

    It is interesting that no-one has mentioned the possible opportunities JLR might have with its Chinese partner Chery Automobiles to create new models for sale in China and other markets.

    Alternatively, Honda could probably do with a collaborative partner right now given the gradual decline in sales of their models and the fact they are currently one of the few remaining Japanese companies not working with another manufacturer.

    Just my thoughts…

  14. Funny, I mentioned about Ellesmere Port being close to Halewood on 19th Feb. on Curbside Classics and suggested Vauxhall as a possible additional brand for JLR vehicles smaller than the new Jag XE. Glad I’m not the only one.

  15. An interesting notion of JLR taking over the Vauxhall brand… after PSA have concluded the deal with GM. My own “fear” is that PSA will drop the Vauxhall name and re-name every car as Opel. The dealerships would also become OPEL (as in Republic of Ireland). Time will tell?

  16. Hmm, not convinced. Apart from anything else, Vauxhall aren’t a separate operation to Opel in the way Skoda and Seat are to VW, but rather the same products with a different badge.

    I can imagine JLR being interested in the Ellesmere Port plant, but only to produce their own vehicles, especially as the Vauxhall badge means little outside the UK, and in the UK has a “non-aspirational” image.

    And no way would JLR want to get involved in the UK mass market bloodbath anyway

    I can’t say I’m bothered if the Vauxhall badge survives or not, I’m more concerned about the factories, but isn’t the UK the biggest market for Vauxhall/Opel in Europe, so I can’t see PSA wanting to antagonise UK buyers too much.

  17. Tata have disappointingly announced a JV with VW on car platforms (trojan horse grab at JLR anyone?) so I can’t see that working with JLR selling a range of rebadged GM vehicles at the same time.

    Mind you, a JLR link with GM takes you straight round to SAIC (major shareholder and becoming GM’s small car centre of excellence) and MG/Roewe…

    • I don’t see the TATA/VW deal as being particularly relevant to JLR, as it will be producing cheap cars for India and developing markets.

      Manufacturers have all sorts of JVs around the world anyway. SAIC (as well as MG) has JVs with both GM AND VW

  18. One thing currently underpinning fleet sales of the Insignia and rather relevantly the Peugeot 508 is that both cars are, I believe, the cheapest option on the approved Uber list for potential minicabs in London. There are legions of them as I believe they’re cheaper than Priuses from that list. If that changes there’s a bleak future for either.

    The thing that has gone from the UK mid-market is the significant price differential between BMW/Mercedes and mainstream large cars which there was in the 1970s and ’80s. As it’s no longer list price but monthly finance costs that determine the cost of a car, the Germans have been able to play an easy marketing game on £ per month and also borrow money cheaply to offer tempting lease and PCP deals. That’s why Vauxhall is struggling and doesn’t sell to private buyers.

  19. It seems to me that only the Ellesmere Port plant could be of any interest to JLR, as it’s only a short hop across to Halewood. I can’t see them wanting to take Luton on.

    As for another brand, why would they want one? Best to do what you know best and not risk the company on brands that have, frankly, had their day.

  20. Fauxhall is toast. It has zero credability as a brand. PSA will pull a Talbot on it. First, it will be used only on vans… Then splat.

    Peugeot will save money by selling Opels in England. Who knows? Opel may even be seen by the British Class system as a rival to VW.
    German engineering etc. The factories may well survive, but not the brand.

    • They could close the factories and stick a Vauxhall badge on imported Opels (which they pretty much do anyway). Keeping the Vauxhall name in the UK makes sense.

      The big question that seems to be missed is what this means for GM. I find it hard to believe that GM’s European operations are a “loss-making branch” and that everything is fine elsewhere. The most likely scenario is that they are in deep shit and are selling what they can to raise cash. The losses are probably due to “assigned expenditure”.

      Also, what happens to GM engineering capacity once they lose all the German facilities? Sounds very like Chrysler when they sold their European arm. Ended up being “merged” with Daimler and then Fiat.

      • No, the problems are definitely here in Europe – for several reasons:

        – Yes, they are a high-volume brand, but most of this comes from low-margin products like the Corsa/Adam/Viva and, to a lesser extent, the Astra.

        – They can’t sell their higher-margin products (i.e the Insignia) at full price. There is too much discounting to fleets and rental companies (fuelled by over-production) which causes high depreciation from new. Result, private customers vote with their feet and go to the premium brands for this size of car.

        – They have been caught in a self-defeating spiral because of the above – being forced to abandon the highly profitable executive sector. Remember when they made the likes of the Carlton/Senator/Omega etc. Those days are gone.

        Remember GM makes plenty of money in the USA from selling pickup trucks and big cars.

  21. Why would PSA ditch Vauxhall? Its UK market share is higher than Opel’s market share in most other markets – on that basis, you’d scrap Opel!

    • That’s true (and why GM didn’t ditch Vauxhall completely, keeping it in the UK only), but looking at the bigger picture and the collective Opel sales across all markets still probably dwarfs Vauxhall’s.

      Sadly, I think PSA already set the precedent 35 years ago with what they did to Chrysler Europe; they ran the British arm for a while in “managed decline”, sold the truck and van side to Renault (why would PSA keep Luton, when now, as they did back then, they have the joint venture with Fiat that makes the Ducato/Relay/Boxer/ProMaster).

      Ultimately PSA only kept Simca because it was French. Brexit will only accelerate this once Britain is out of the EU. The writing is on the wall I’m afraid.

      • That joint venture with Fiat is probably going to end, it already has for the smaller CVs. In that case PSA will have to come up with its own replacement for the Vauxhall/Opel Movano, Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay/Jumper and Luton could be the plant to produce it.

  22. I have a more optimistic view of what PSA might do with Vauxhall. At the moment PSA/Opel’s big problem is too many factories making too few cars. A simple solution to this may be to try and take Vauxhall upmarket in a similar way to what Citroen has done with DS. Vauxhall’s sales in the UK would fall dramatically, but Opel could sweep up their lost business. Vauxhall could then be marketed around the world as a separate, more upmarket brand and build a future as a premiumish car maker. Yes, it’s a gamble but it’s one that could pay dividends.

    • It might work in the rest of the world but would probably fail here. More likely will try and push Opel upmarket

    • Interesting idea, pushing Vauxhall as an upmarket brand (along the lines of Infiniti and Lexus?). I wouldn’t mind seeing that but I still fear the whole range will be rebadged as Opels – hopefully, with Ellesmere Port remaining as a production centre for the Astra. I probably have a sentimental liking for Vauxhall ‘cos my Dad’s first two cars were those and I owned a Viva once.

  23. I’d be more interested if PSA decide to make more Vauxhalls. Perhaps Vauxhall Opel being taken over by PSA could see the end of rebadged Daewoos coming from Korea, where labour costs aren’t much lower than Britain, and models like the Viva, which has a strong link to Ellesmre Port from the original car, being made over here. It would be nice to see Ellesmere Port being expanded to take on another line.

  24. I don’t really accept that Vauxhall has an image problem but, if some of you guys are right and they do, surely to take the a range upmarket would be best using a derivative – like Wyvern or Velox – or the Griffin itself. This would better replicate the move by Citroen with DS – an old Citroen model.

    It will be such a pity to lose the name (and according to some of you the company operations) from a company that has made cars since 1903 and produced one of the finest sporting motor car cars of all time – the 30/98. This same company made some of UK’s most popular family cars – the Viva, Victor and Cresta – which, at the time, were more than a match for the most of the competition.

    I’ve recently had a look at the range though and it is too big and almost everything looks like something else – Kia, Nissan, whatever. But surely some rationalised thinking could kick out the dross and major on nicely-built, proper saloons and estates with a variation of one 4×4! Or must all manufacturers have to produce these Kia lookalike SUV things – is that what everyone really wants? Probably… What do I know?

  25. As I drove past the Ellesmere Port factory on the M53 yesterday, what emerged from it? A transporter carrying six, or was it eight Opels! Ponder the significance of this…

    • Well, Ellesmere Port has been making Opel-badged LHD cars for the continent for many years – as did Luton, I have a Vauxhall blurb from the 80s showing Luton making Opel-badged Cavalier Mk3s (Vectra A). However, your point may be what happens after Brexit and these cars get tariffs applied if there is no trade deal – is that what you are implying?

      • No, I am simply pointing out that if PSA (or whatever today’s name is for this very rocky group) wanted to make only Opel-badged cars, this does not necessarily mean that production would leave the UK, which might be difficult given that it is likely that hundreds of millions in development grants would have to be repaid to the British Government before the tooling could be exported. It is doubtful whether PSA has this sort of cash to hand.

        • Well, with respect, the up-to-date evidence does not, at least to my mind, justify the assertion about PSA Group’s financial position made above.

          Indeed, most professional Automotive Industry analysts and journalists would probably agree that PSA Group’s Portuguese CEO, Carlos Tavares, has done a pretty remarkable job in turning the company around since his appointment on 31st March, 2014 – to find out why, follow this link to the Finance page on PSA Group’s website and then download the Press Release entitled “Push to Pass” first year: record profitability and success of commercial launches.

          By the way, Tavares is not just a numbers man – he is a proper car guy as well. See this recent article by Automotive News Europe’s Editor, Luca Ciferri:

          Tavares is a maestro who wants to orchestrate Opel’s revival, Luca Ciferri, Automotive News Europe, 5th March, 2017

          • Clive, I looked at the accounts with interest (no pun intended). I thought that a salutary aspect was stock levels amounting now to 406,000 vehicles i.e. about 13 per cent of a year’s sales (and an increase of 56,000 vehicles compared with 2015), and valued at – by my estimate including stocks at dealers – about 4.78 billion Euros (or about 2 years’ net profit of the entire group!!).

            That needs to be compared with the Net Current Assets position of about 400 million Euros for the Manufacturing subsidiaries, and about 800 million for the consolidated group. That represents about five to six days of group revenue and, bearing in mind how fickle automotive demand is, seems to me to represent rather thin liquidity. Even if the cars at dealers are, in fact, financed by the dealers rather than PSA, the value of stock held by PSA accounts for perhaps 800million Euros (I have estimated these at 2/3 of selling price) and wipes out the group liquidity altogether.

            The implication is that the bleeding from the wound has been stemmed and to some extent reversed, but full health seems to be a distance away as yet.

        • Christopher, Well, admittedly, I am no Management Accountant, but you do appear to have highlighted a valid point – I also concur with your assessment that PSA Group still has some way to go in order to make a full recovery.

          I do wonder, though, what a similar examination of the latest Annual Financial Reports for the other major global OEMs might disclose…

          Anyway, I still believe that PSA Group’s CEO, Carlos Tavares, does deserve a lot of credit for what he has achieved to date. After all, the key objectives of his original “Back in the Race” Plan, which was published on the 14th April, 2014 (just a matter of days after his appointment) and intended to cover the period 2014 to 2018, were met two years early. Indeed, that’s why the current “Push to Pass” Plan, which covers the period 2016 to 2021, was published on the 5th April, 2016.

          Just to put some numbers on that: Tavares “reduced PSA’s breakeven point to 1.6 million units in 2015 from 2.6 million in 2013. He also swung the French automaker to a 1.2 billion operating profit from a 1.3 billion loss in just 24 months.” See this Automotive News Europe article:

          To fix Opel, Tavares wants to avoid simple solutions, Luca Ciferri, Automotive News Europe, 2nd April, 2017

  26. When was the last time anyone really craved a Vauxhall? Looked at one and thought “Gosh!”.

    It’s a mundane brand. Nobody aspires to have a Vauxhall. The middle market has shrunk thanks to a pincer movement led by Audi and BMW from “above” and Hyundai and Kia from “below”. Vauxhall means nothing outside the UK. It is hugely dependent on fleet sales.

    If Jaguar Land Rover (or Tata) is sensible, its focus should be on profit not volume. Volume is an ego-trip. A technology-sharing and cost-sharing programme for JLR is sensible, as identified above with VW Group.

    Mind you, I still cannot fathom why PSA has bought Opel/Vauxhall. What PSA needs is a budget brand (think Renault and Dacia) and an up-market brand (think Audi and VW). I’d love DS to work. But its “posher Citroens” strategy seems a bit Wolseley, which became “posher Morrises” after Nuffield bought it. A badge-engineering muddle…

    I guess PSA wants to emulate Volkswagen Group and have a number of mid-market brands that appear to compete against each other in some ways but share platforms and technology. But PSA tried to do that with Talbot. And…

    • PSA Groupe are currently in negotiations to purchase PROTON and Lotus, PROTON surely must be viable as a budget brand. They could end up with the company looking something like this,

      PROTON- budget rival to Dacia in Europe
      Citröen- an ‘added value’ French Škoda rival
      Opel- mainstream brand targeting Ford
      Peugeot- as referenced in ‘Push to Pass’ a challenger to VW or what Rover tried to be
      DS- quirky modern rival to retro-modern MINI
      Vauxhall- the only way I can see them using Vauxhall is as a full premium manufacturer like a less sporty Jaguar
      Lotus- chassis engineering for special models (who wouldn’t want a Lotus Peugeot 308 GTi?) and a sports car manufacturer.

      Just my thoughts of how it would look and with the exception of Vauxhall is more-or-less in line with their current brand positioning.

  27. I think your jumping the gun here, it’s not 1st April until tomorrow!

    I know it’s inevitable that these pages will see people waxing lyrically about an old British brand being repatriated like this, but let’s just ground ourselves in reality for a moment. Vauxhall is not a separate entity to Opel. Vauxhall is Opel in the UK, it makes identical cars with a British friendly badge. This helps Opel sell more cars in the UK than it otherwise would. Even the model names are identical.

    Assuming Opel wants to maintain and grow its presence in its second largest market in Europe, it will need the Vauxhall brand badly. The last thing it will need at this time will be reintroducing the long lost Opel brand back to the UK. Jaguar Land Rover is also on a roll ploughing all their resources into launching premium products like the F-Pace and Velar – cars with global appeal that can be sold very profitably. Why on earth would it want to divert from this to try and create a new company from the Vauxhall shell?

    There is no way Opel would let JLR sell its vehicles under licence under these circumstances when they would be trying to remarket them in the UK as Opels! Moreover, why would JLR want to start swimming in the mass market stagnant pond of wafer thin margins anyway? I guess that, if PSA/Opel does pull the plug on its UK factories, these could be of interest to JLR, but I’m sure if JLR did decide to open another plant in the UK every regional development body in the land would be falling over themselves to attract them.

  28. My point is that Vauxhall might be mundane in your view now, but Skoda at one time was so unaspirational that they were actually a joke! Look what they have done to themselves! If Vauxhall has a problem (models, image, low aspiration levels – whatever jargon you want to use), it can be sorted! They just need the right people and tools – like everything else in the world. (And don’t tell me Skoda are so successful because VW are behind them because VW farm out ‘image building’ just like everyone else – and Vauxhall can do that too!).

    Remember also that your beloved and revered Jaguar not so long ago was a pastiche of proper Jaguars – compare the ‘aspirational’ level of an X-Type to the current range – so, (thanks to Tata) we still have Jags to be proud of. They didn’t see fit to drop the name or the product just because it had a recent image problem. As so often happens on these pages, it seems the British defeat mechanism kicks in and we want throw in the towel, sell up, pack up, kick the dog when it’s down – do anything except get the bloomin thing to work!

    Incidentally, Wolseley was the most profitable and successful marque of the BMC ‘up-market’ variations – and made more sales than MG, Vanden Plas or Riley. Wolseleys always – even to the very last car in 1976 – were ‘aspirational’. Isn’t that what your saying Vauxhall needs?

    • Skoda originated in a low-cost economy so VW were able to build up the brand image without losing loads of money while they were doing it.

      Vauxhall is the opposite – it’s built in a high-cost economy so it needs to be premium already if it’s to stand alone in the UK as a purely UK brand.

      I think I see a problem…

    • VAG bought Skoda as the Berlin wall came down because it realised the opportunities of the newly freed wanting to get out of old rear engine Skodas and smokey Trabants as quickly as possible. It also provided a low cost manufacturing base in the former communist block. Skoda provided an Eastern European friendly badge under which to sell Volkswagens tailored to meet local requirements. As a bonus it provided a budget brand to slot in below VW. As those Central and Eastern European markets have matured and become more affluent Skoda has developed with them to become the company it is today.

      You simply cant compare VW and Skoda in 1989 to Vauxhall and JLR today. As I said above, Vauxhall is of far more value to PSA/Opel than it is to JLR.

      • Skoda had shown they could make something fairly modern with the Favorit breaking the rear engined mould, which I’m guessing caught VW’s attention.

  29. Vauxhall is still the second most popular make of car in Britain and the only one of the old “Big Four” to still make cars here. I think the latest Insignia and Astra are quite good cars, and it would be nice if more Vauxhalls could be made here. It’s not an aspirational brand, though neither is Ford, but still sells well in the fleet market and to people who like the idea of buying British by buying an Astra.

  30. Did I hear somewhere that GM had to abandon the Daewoo/Chevrolet venture as part of a deal with the German car unions?

    The old rule in the car industry was that big cars made big profits as they cost little more than small ones to make but could be sold for much more. The problem most manufacturers had was actually making big cars that people wanted to buy – think big French cars, late model Ford Granadas/Scorpios (especially the one with the gaping grille, which always looked so sad), Austin 3-Litre, Ford Zephyr Mk 4…

    BMW and Mercedes make large cars – and don’t seem able to put a foot wrong at the moment – JLR are selling nicely, so they’ll need a large Vauxhall – Opel like a hole in the head. It would be the same as the S-Type again – who wants a Jaguar with a Lincoln chassis. (Anyone but the Americans would have told Lincoln buyers that they were getting a Jaguar chassis and all would have been fine).

    There is also the curious French tax treatment of vehicles over 2.8-litres – hence, although the French have tried on numerous occasions to make big cars, they’ve never been able to fit decent engines – so maybe German and British factories will enable them to move outside this restriction.

    • Go back to my childhood, and the Ford Granada was often in the Top Ten best sellers, and completely outsold its German rivals, which were too expensive for most buyers.

      In Mark 2 form, you had everything from a 2.0-litre economy version to the luxurious 2.8-litre Ghia X and the sporting Injection model. Also, compared with its biggest rival, the Rover SD1, the Granada was reliable and had the usual Ford low servicing and repair costs.

      Sadly, Ford dropped the ball with the awful Scorpio and abandoned the executive market, although acquiring Jaguar probably meant big Fords were no longer needed.

      • Two things destroyed the mass market ‘E’ segment, namely:

        – Lack of image: people twigged that an Audi, BMW, Mercedes or Volvo etc. was a better investment if you wanted a big car and didn’t want to lose thousands in depreciation the minute you drove it out the showroom.

        – For those that weren’t interested in image, but still wanted a big car, in the mid/late 1990s there was the onslaught of full-size people carriers which gave you the space you needed, which rendered mass-market big cars redundant.

        Interestingly, the ‘D’ segment (Mondeo/Insignia et al) has been under attack for the exact same reasons; the pressure from the German premium brands on one hand, and crossovers/mini-MPVs on the other. Renault has abandoned it completely (by shelving the Laguna with no replacement), as have Toyota and Honda. Volkswagen have tried to move the Passat upmarket in its latest generation – even if it risks overlapping with the in-house Audi A4. Ford are doing the same thing with the Mondeo Vignale. Maybe the traditional mid-size saloon will disappear eventually…

        • Sad to say, except for the premium brands, the large car is dead in the water now. Go back to the Eighties, Ford, Vauxhall and Rover dominated this class, particularly early on, but as the middle classes became more affluent during the eighties, there was a massive spike in sales for German premium brands. More than likely the Germans and the trend towards MPVs and SUVs, killed off the mass-produced large car.

          Just to underline the point, I remember visiting my local Nissan and Suzuki dealer a couple of years ago and them desperately trying to push a Suzuki executive car with special offers and low-rate finance. Problem was, Suzuki are best known for small hatchbacks and SUVs and the car was only available with a petrol V6, so sales must have made the MG6 look good.

          • The Mondeo and Insignia are large cars anyway, even if you can buy a 1.0-litre Turbo Mondeo!

            The current Mondeo (191.7 in) is longer than the final Scorpio (190).

            The current Insignia (192.8) has grown and is the same length as the final Omega.

            These aren’t mid-sized family cars, even if they appear to be the successors to the Cortina/Sierra and Cavalier…

          • True, but all size classes have got bigger over the generations and, because it has been incremental, we haven’t noticed it. Not that long ago I saw a Mk.3 Escort parked next to the current-generation Focus at my local Tescos and the Escort now looks tiny in comparison. The BMW 3-Series is now bigger than a 1970s 5-Series.

      • Go back to your – and my – childhood and there would have still been significant import tariffs on BMWs and Mercs. Although the UK joined the EEC in 1973, it was a number of years before all car-related tariff barriers came down – that explains why BL got away with it for so long. Who knows what will happen come 2019? Maybe Ford should start un-mothballing its Dagenham assembly halls!

  31. Finding someone, or an organisation, that could be totally independent and without emotion analyse a current BMW 5-Series saloon and a top-spec Insignia would be interesting. One can’t trust any of the motoring magazines and certainly no TV programme could do the job without bias. Mel Nichols and the guys from CAR way back in the 1960s knew that UK car magazines were fundamentally flawed with corruption and bias – which is why they had to borrow cars from showrooms for testing as no company would lend them anything to drive!

    Anyway, if any of us presume to know the ‘winner’ we are, by definition, biased – I admit it – I would want the Insignia to be the better car because it is not ‘aspirational’. (Aspirational being another word for ‘one-upmanship’ and I detest snobbery at any level.) However, if, under my ideal conditions regarding total independence, the 5-Series was proven to be the better car – what would I do? I have no idea – and I don’t need either at this point in my life. There are now, of course, websites that profess to give you the Top 10 of everything. They said the Hyundai i10 was the best super-mini. All excited, we went to buy one as a run-around (and give the vintage stuff a rest). Mmm…

    I bought a (nearly) new Fiat 500. Why? Because it was the only super-mini we could find that we fell in love with – to hell with depreciations, performance, servicing costs, guarantees, aspirations – it was the only current car we could have a relationship with. And, I think its build quality is at least equal if not better than the BMW Mini Cooper we had three years ago. (Controversial).

    Back to my 5-Series and Insignia initiative. Know anyone truly independent?

    • You right on the tinted glasses that most motoring journalists wear. Read the latest BMW 5 Series vs Jag XF vs Mercedes E class test and you get to see it very easily. A couple of years ago the S Type lost against the 5 as it was not as sporty and too cosseting. They now admit the XF is the best to drive down a twisty road, but the BMW is more cosseting so it a better allrounder! The amount of contradictions in their own story is ridiculous.

        • Who ever said journalists know anything about cars? I think Setright was the last one who had a clue. It’s a tragedy of modern times that anybody ever thought Clarkson and co ever had a clue. Print journalists are just as bad…..scared of the advertising dept.

  32. The suggestion / rumor as I understand it is –

    – JLR buys Ellesmere Port and the Vauxhall brand

    – PSA keep the existing Vauxhall dealer network and rebadge the product as Opel in the U.K.

    – JLR use Ellesmere Ports capacity to expand production of Ipace Epace etc

    – JLR launch new Vauxhall globally as a sub brand analagous to Mini, selling some of the fwd products they are now condeveloping with Tata. Effectively an untarnished version of MG or Rover.

    PSA get a low cost way of reducing overcapacity and unifying their branding, JLR get their Mini chasing brand, Tata get to amortise their fwd products globally. I think it makes a bit of sense.

  33. I have just bought an Insignia – 21 months old and it has suffered 50% depreciation. Also looked at Mondeos and preferred the Vauxhall.

    Would marketing Opels in the UK really work? When we go to the continent we see Opels but Brits are used to the name Vauxhall…..though quite a number of years ago they had a slight rust problem.

    JLR could market a Vauxhall ‘overseas’ and it would be a’new’ name. With JLR using the name ‘Velar’ LR could also resurrect ‘Talago’ 🙂

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