It may be coincidence or it may be destiny, but the lightning bolt in Opel’s logo now appears to define the future of the German carmaker under its new French owners. PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars in France, announced a radical restructuring of the iconic German brand just three months after taking it over, with a focus on electric cars and expanding to global markets. And it is also supposed to start making money again.
PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares acknowledged Thursday that the company, which has cumulative losses of €19 billion ($22 billion) since 1999, continues to operate at a loss. But he pledged that Opel would realize savings of €1.7 billion from synergy between the two companies by 2024 and return to profit by 2020. Mr. Tavares is due some credibility for his claim after turning around the French automaker in just three years and bringing it from near bankruptcy to become one of Europe’s most profitable companies.
PSA acquired Opel from General Motors in August for $2.2 billion. The move allows Opel to shift production from GM components to PSA platforms and technologies, giving it a much better chance of meeting the stiff new carbon emissions targets announced by the European Union this week.
Mr. Tavares and the new Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller, pledged to transform all Opel models to electric by 2024 and to open up a score of new markets abroad. Under GM, Opel had developed only one electric car and was banned from selling in markets with another GM brand.