One of Tavares' biggest assets is his credibility. That was earned when he resuscitated PSA from a state of "near death," as he puts it, to generating underlying automotive margins of more than 7 percent in the first half of this year.
"Who knows where Tavares gets it from," wrote Bernstein analyst Max Warburton after the presentation. "It doesn't matter — this man knows how to manage and to motivate."
The first element of the new strategy is to give Opel freedom to develop its export business beyond the 15 countries, mostly in North Africa and the Middle East, where it does business. The carmaker's German work force had urged management for years to enter new markets, but GM refused to fund the expansion of a money-losing brand that could cannibalize profitable sales of its own core Chevrolet and Buick models. Under PSA, however, that will change.
Three successive milestones were set out under a plan drafted by Lohscheller, who replaced Karl-Thomas Neumann as Opel CEO in the summer. The first is that export sales will double by 2020. Second, the brand should have entered more than 20 new markets no more than two years after that. Finally, exports should account for more than a tenth of sales volume by the middle of the next decade.
Already included in this tally are Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, the brand's first foray into Asia in years. Lohscheller dismissed any notion that the expansion efforts were just for show. He said Opel would "have to make money immediately with these export markets."
Opel also has the potential to use PSA's global assembly plant network. This would open key growth markets, in particular, China and Brazil, where GM's Buick and Chevy brands blocked Opel's path in the past. Another market under consideration is Russia, which Opel had to leave when GM fled in 2015.
And while the U.S. is essentially off-limits as long as the Insignia sedan uses a GM platform, Opel officials suggested this could mean it can establish a foothold in Iran. If it does, Opel would have access to a 1.5 million-unit market that rivals such as the Volkswagen brand won't yet enter for fear of harming their U.S. business.
A beaming Lohscheller proclaimed, "Opel will go global. Finally."