GM's Opel prices Adam below Fiat 500, Mini
PARIS -- Opel/Vauxhall has priced its new Adam minicar just under its main rival, the Fiat 500.
Opel says the entry-level 1.2-liter gasoline-powered version of the new three-door car will cost 11,500 euros ($14,870) in Germany when it goes on sale in January. The cheapest Fiat 500, also a 1.2-liter variant with a gasoline engine, starts at 11,600 euros.
The highest spec version of the Adam will start at 14,700 euros in Germany. By comparison, the entry-level Mini, another rival cited by Opel/Vauxhall, starts at 15,600 euros.
Opel head of design Mark Adams said the Adam was styled to make car buyers see Opel/Vauxhall in a new light.
"It's more important role is to challenge people's perception about the brand," he told Automotive News Europe at a launch event for the Adam on the eve of the auto show here. "For me the whole point to develop the vehicle was to be deliberately be provocative."
Opel is betting that the Adam's "masculine" styling will help sales. "We think of the Fiat as a little bit more of a feminine design, a little bit cuter -- a cute design, whereas Adam is definitely more bold, more masculine," said Liz Wetzel, Opel's interior design director.
Vauxhall Managing Director Duncan Aldred estimates Opel and Vauxhall will sell a combined 40,000 to 50,000 Adams a year in Europe, with Vauxhall's home market, the UK, accounting for about 10,000.
Last year Fiat sold 156,046 units of the 500 in Europe, according to figures from JATO Dynamics.
Matthew Stover, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities in Boston, said the Adam is a "neat little product" but it won't be the vehicle that turns around the brand because the projected sales target is small compared with Opel's total annual unit sales of about 1 million.
GM Vice Chairman Steve Girksy told analysts earlier this year that the Adam "could do more for Opel's image than any other product they've launched in a long time. It's not the giant moneymaker, but it could be a high-volume car with good image."
The Adam will be built on the Corsa line at Opel's factory in Eisanach, Germany.
Opel head of sales and marketing Alfred Rieck said the company has "good capacity" to make the Adam and it could easily increase production if demand is stronger than expected.
Rieck also said the car would make money for Opel, despite being built in western Europe. "We are delivering a very high level of quality but the way the car has been constructed gives us the possibility to build in Germany and still be profitable," he said.
Most minicars sold in Europe are produced in eastern Europe, where labor costs are significantly lower than in the west. Fiat builds the 500 in Poland while Renault produces its Twingo minicar in Slovenia.
The Adam's 1.2- and 1.4-liter gasoline engines are shared with the Corsa. Opel has confirmed those powerplants will replaced by the new family of small turbocharged engines developed alongside GM's Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive, with likely displacements of 1.0 and 1.2 liters. The new engines are due in mid-2014.
Opel is placing great emphasis on the many options it is providing customers to individualize the Adam. Alongside the three trim levels dubbed Jam, Glam, Slam, buyers can pick from three different roof colors as well as 20 wheel options. Interior trim choices include a so-called "starlight" headliner with more 60 embedded LEDs, as well as an interior lighting package that offers seven different color settings.
The Adam debuts Opel/Vauxhall's new infotainment system that migrates smartphone functions to the car's dash screen using either Bluetooth or an USB link. In place of traditional navigation system, Opel will sell a navigation app that downloads onto the driver's phone. Both iPhone and Android-equipped phones are supported.
"We want to be known as a quality brand with affordable prices," Reick said. "That's certainly true for the Adam."
Bloomberg contributed to this report
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