DETROIT -- Four years ago, General Motors' tumble into Chapter 11 bankruptcy was both a humiliating setback for an American icon and a fresh start that paved the way for a robust recovery.
With its decision now to mostly pull Chevrolet, that quintessentially American marque, out of Europe, GM is hoping for a similar plotline.
Beginning in 2016, Chevrolet "will no longer have a mainstream presence in Western and Eastern Europe, largely due to a challenging business model and the difficult economic situation in Europe," GM announced last week.
The move is widely seen as an acknowledgement that the nearly decade-long effort to establish Chevy as a value brand in Europe, while moving GM's Opel brand upmarket, had failed.
Still, some analysts believe the move was best for GM's bottom line and its prospects for growth in Europe. Rather than force-feeding Chevys into a market that had shown little appetite for them, they say, GM now can concentrate on its Opel and Vauxhall brands, which outsell Chevy in Europe by a 6-to-1 ratio.
For a sense of the size of Chevy's challenge, consider that the Cruze compact, Chevy's best-selling car globally, sold just 30,475 units in Europe this year through October -- one-tenth that of the Ford Focus -- according to the latest figures available from JATO Dynamics. Chevy's best sellers in Europe were the Aveo subcompact and the Spark minicar.
"Chevrolet doesn't make any money in Europe," Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas wrote bluntly in a client note last week. "It was losing market share and brand consideration was weak."
GM CEO Dan Akerson telegraphed a major shakeup to the European brand strategy in an interview with Automotive News last month, expressing frustration with the persistent overlap between Opel and Chevy, whose products share floor space in about 1,900 dealerships across Europe.
"I don't think you can have an Astra ... and a Cruze sitting in the same showroom," Akerson said.
Chevy, he said in the interview, got off on the wrong foot back in 2005, when his predecessors at GM decided to roll out the brand across Europe in the form of rebadged vehicles from Daewoo, the Korean automaker that GM acquired in 2002.
"We sent in a bunch of young MBAs and said, 'We can make Daewoo a much stronger product. We're going to name it Chevrolet,'" Akerson said. "There was no brand discipline."