Hans Demant, who succeeded Carl-Peter Forster as managing director of Adam Opel AG this month, must guide the German operations of GM Europe back to profitability. One decision that is still open is whether Opel will produce the Trixx, a minicar that will compete with the smallest cars on the European market. He was interviewed recently by Wolfgang Eschment of Automobilwoche, a German-language sister publication of Automotive News.
Q&A: New Opel chief under the gun to revive profits
The question is: Can you do something below the Agila small minivan? More and more people want a really clever minicar. Of course, we also see that Smart still isn't profitable with such concepts despite its quite good sales volume. We're looking into this, but there has been no business decision regarding the Trixx.
What are your most pressing assignments and goals in your new double role?
The assignment will be very clear: to make GM Europe and Opel competitive and profitable. That is also important internally. We have one big advantage at Opel and that is our products. We brought a whole range of excellent new models to market and these cars are extremely well-received.
Do you have the freedom to decide on the Trixx, or are you merely the German marketing arm of GM Europe?
We're playing the biggest role at General Motors in Europe. We have the central role in engineering. And we have extremely modern plants in Russelsheim and Eisenach, for example. Of course, I have the necessary freedom.
But decisions on what will be produced at Opel in Germany will now be made at GM Europe headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland?
That's a relatively simple issue. The principle is that any plant should be able to build all products. With new cars the question is which plant can make the best offer. When we're competitive in Germany, production will go to these locations.
Russelsheim is your most modern plant, but less than 60 percent of capacity is used.
The situation in Russelsheim is the result of the sales slump in the middle segment in Europe. This doesn't just hit Opel, but it affects the entire industry. But we'll boost capacity use with the Vectra GTS models, for which we're moving production from England to Russelsheim.
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