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The PSA Group, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, is reportedly seeking a refund from General Motors for half the purchase price of Opel.

According to Reuters’ sources, PSA understands Opel will significantly exceed the European Union’s 2021 CO2 emissions target for passenger vehicles of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre — equivalent to 3.6L/100km in diesel cars and 4.1L/100km in petrol vehicles.

PSA is reportedly seeking 600 to 800 million euros ($940 to $1250 million) in compensation from GM, which is around half the purchase price of the 1.3 billion euros ($2 billion).

During the sale negotiations, PSA was led to believe GM’s European operations would miss the mark by a few grams per kilometre. Instead, it now believes Opel will be at least 10g/km over the limit.

If such an situation were to eventuate, PSA’s Opel subsidiary could be liable for up to one billion ($1.6 billion) in fines, as the EU will levy a charge of 95 euros ($149) per gram over the limit for every new vehicle sold.

Multiple sources told Reuters Opel’s CO2 reduction plan under GM included a larger-than-reasonable proportion of diesel cars, and substantial sales (around 20,000) of the Ampera-e, a rebadged Chevrolet Bolt.

Each Ampera-e was priced at a loss of around 10,000 euros ($15,700) under the General’s stewardship. PSA has since increased prices of the Ampera-e.

It has also halted sales of the electric hatchback in Norway, where the government has cut taxes and fees for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, making it possibly the one place in the world where the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S have topped the sales charts.


Above: Opel boss Michael Lohscheller.

Earlier this month, PSA celebrated its 100th day in charge of Opel by releasing details about its turnaround plan. In the ‘Pace!’ strategy, Opel will completely move to the PSA Group’s more efficient platforms and drivetrain technologies three years ahead of schedule.

It will also introduce a number of key plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle models it had not originally planned for.

“We became aware a few weeks after we finalised the closing that the company was going to the wall on CO2 emissions,” Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group told the media at the launch of Opel’s turnaround plan.

Noting the “weight of fines you are hit with can threaten the company’s existence”, Tavares said Opel and PSA had to “completely rebuild the product and technology strategies”.

Reuters understands PSA and GM have had discussions on the matter, but neither side is saying anything officially, and PSA has yet to lodge a formal request about the matter.

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