GM wants Opel to challenge VW

General Motors believes its European Opel brand can easily compete with the likes of rival Volkswagen and wants to steer it upmarket, GM Europe chief Nick Reilly said on Tuesday.

GM wants Opel to challenge VW
Photo: DPA

“We are not trying to get into the premium European segment, which is BMW and so on. We’re definitely not trying to compete” there, Reilly told reporters at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt.

“What we’re trying to say, though, is that we feel the product range we’re coming out with can stand against anything that is in the volume market… so the Volkswagens and anybody else, we can compete with,” Reilly said.

Opel was priced “a bit below that” in the past, “but we don’t need to any more,” he said.

GM chief executive Dan Akerson said earlier this week the group planned to move Opel upmarket and seek more synergies between Opel and its North American Buick brand.

Improved designs and quality and cost-cutting have recently allowed Opel and its UK sister brand Vauxhall – which have faced image problems in the past – to boost volumes and return to modest profits.

Given the current eurozone debt crisis, GM’s expectations for this year and next year did not foresee rapid sales growth, Reilly said.

The European market would remain “pretty static actually, (with) a little bit of growth in the US and continued growth in China.” For the industry as a whole, GM was pencilling in total car sales in the whole of Europe to be in a range of around 19.6 million vehicles in 2012, he said.


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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.