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The PSA Group, the parent company behind Peugeot, Citroen and DS, completed its takeover of Opel and Vauxhall from GM on August 1.

Opel has promised to deliver a new performance plan within 100 days, with the key goal of achieving operational profitability by 2020 and a six per cent profit margin by 2026.

GM’s former European brands last turned a profit in 1999, and the General has lost an estimated US$15 billion ($18.6 billion) on the Continent since then.

Above: Michael Lohscheller (left), Opel CEO, and Carlos Tavares (right), PSA Group chairman.

Marking the change in ownership, Carlos Tavares, chairman of the PSA Group, said: “We are witnessing the birth of a true European champion today. We will assist Opel and Vauxhall’s return to profitability and aim to set new industry benchmarks together.

“We will unleash the power of these iconic brands and the huge potential of its existing talents. Opel will remain German, Vauxhall will remain British. They are the perfect fit to our existing portfolio of French brands Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles.”

Michael Lohscheller, Opel’s new CEO, stated: “It is a historic day. We are proud to join Groupe PSA and are now opening a new chapter in our history after 88 years with General Motors.

“We will continue our path of making technology `made in Germany´ available to everyone.”

On behalf of GM, Dan Ammann, its president, said, “This transaction allows us to sharply focus our resources on higher-return opportunities as we expand our technical and business leadership in the future of mobility.”

Above: Opel Crossland X.

In addition to a new CEO, the Opel board has undergone change, with a number of key executives staying with GM. As such, there are three new board members from the PSA Group and an procurement executive brought in from Vodafone.

PSA and Opel/Vauxhall have been working together since 2012, when GM owned seven per cent of PSA and was its second largest shareholder.

The first fruit from that partnership, the Peugeot 2008-based Opel Crossland X is now in European showrooms. The already revealed Grandland X, a sibling of the Peugeot 3008, is due to go on sale later this year, and it will be followed by a new PSA-based Combo van.

The company has also confirmed the next-generation Opel Corsa, to be based on a PSA platform, will be launched in 2019.

The last component of GM’s exit from the western European market, the sale of GM Financial’s EU operations to Group PSA and BNP Paribas is still waiting regulatory approvals, and is expected to close later this year.

Above: Opel Insignia.

The total price for Opel/Vauxhall and GM’s European financing unit is 2.2 billion euros ($3.2 billion).

According to The Motley Fool, The PSA Group will pay GM US$900 million ($1.1 billion) in cash, with the remainder in time-limited warrants for PSA shares. This means GM could pocket more than the originally planned 2.2 billion euros if PSA’s stock price goes up.

GM is still responsible for Opel’s pension liabilities for already retired personnel, said to around US$9.8 billion ($12.2 billion). With the pension pool thought to be underfunded by about US$3 billion ($3.7 billion), GM is effect paying the PSA Group to take Opel/Vauxhall off its hands.

Through the transaction, the PSA Group has gained 40,000 new employees spread across six car making factories, five component plants, and Opel’s engineering facility in Russelsheim, Germany.

It also now owns the Opel and Vauxhall brands, and can produce existing vehicles based on GM platforms and technologies via licensing agreement, although it’s understood it cannot sell these vehicles outside of Opel/Vauxhall’s current markets.

Any push into new markets, such as China or the USA, will have to done with cars built on PSA’s own platforms and technologies.

Above: Holden Astra.

A supply agreement also ensures Opel products will continue to be sold by Buick in the US and Holden in Australia, at least for the near future.

At present, the Holden Astra hatch is sourced from Opel, with Commodore-branded versions of the Opel Insignia due to replace the locally produced model when Holden’s local factories shut.

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