ZURICH -- On its way to recovery, General Motors Europe has embarked on a major quality push for its core Opel and Vauxhall brands. The new Astra will spearhead the drive.
"We want to be better than Toyota -- that is a short-term goal," said Michael Burns, president of GM Europe. Toyota is the market leader in most European quality surveys.
In an interview, Burns said GM has already made great strides in Europe.
"We have markedly improved our quality compared to five years ago, with 50 percent fewer incidents per vehicle," Burns said. "The improvement is shown by data from various auto clubs, and major car magazines. We also noticed we have passed a lot of others [in quality statistics.] We want to be the best."
Higher diesel penetration is another short-term goal for GM Europe and Burns says the company is gaining. It lagged 10 percent behind the European average diesel share last year, "but we have closed that gap the last couple of months to 5 [percentage points,] and we will continue to improve our share."
He cited the availability of more diesel-powered models as a major factor. Opel now has a full range of diesels from a small 1.3-liter to a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel.
GM has not yet approved a successor to the high-end Opel/Vauxhall Omega. But a decision is likely in the near to medium term, he indicated.
"Would we like to do it? Yes, we would, but we have to be realistic about this," Burns said. He noted that Opel and Vauxhall have no brand recognition in the luxury segment.
An Omega successor wouldn't necessarily have to be produced in Europe.
"Depending on volume, importing such a vehicle from the location where the platform originates, is absolutely an option," Burns said. The new Zeta platform is under development in Australia at GM's Holden division.