The Latest: GM may exit other markets if they can’t be fixed
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on General Motors’ sale of its European brands to PSA Group (all times local):
General Motors’ exit from its money-losing European operations may not be the company’s last act.
CEO Mary Barra, on a conference call with U.S. analysts Monday, said GM has work to do on some of its international operations. If it can’t fix them, it may take another step like it did in selling Opel and Vauxhall to PSA, she said.
She said: “There are parts of the core business that we’re going to make sure are earning their way into the General Motors portfolio.” Barra did not specify which areas may be under review.
She said that such a move would be in keeping with GM’s philosophy that every country has to contribute to the company’s bottom line.
French automaker PSA Group, which makes the Peugeot and Citroen brands, eventually will be able to sell vehicles in the U.S. under its deal to buy the Opel and Vauxhall brands from General Motors.
GM will be able to compete in Europe with ride-hailing and other new mobility services, and it can keep selling Cadillac and some high-performance Chevrolets in Europe in low volumes under the deal.
GM President Dan Ammann told U.S. analysts on a conference call Monday that once Opel and Vauxhall vehicles move to PSA-designed underpinnings, then the company is free to sell them in the U.S.
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares is familiar with the U.S. Before moving to PSA, he was president of Nissan Motor Co.’s North American operations.
Ammann said GM keeps flexibility to sell “some of the new business model type activities” in Europe, but it doesn’t expect to sell mass market vehicles there.
GM currently sells a small number of Cadillacs and some Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette vehicles in Europe.
Prime Minister Theresa May stressed the importance of the Vauxhall brand to Britain when she spoke with the CEO of General Motors ahead of the American company’s announcement that it was selling its unprofitable Europe car business.
May’s office said in a statement Monday that May and Business Secretary Greg Clark spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors as well as with PSA Group chair Carlos Tavares.
The prime minister’s office says that Barra made clear that Vauxhall “would recognize and respect all agreements regarding the workforce.”
May and Barra also expressed confidence that the deal had the potential “to strengthen the Vauxhall brand and allow for further growth.”
Britain’s business secretary has welcomed assurances by France’s PSA Group that it will respect commitments to U.K. autoworkers when it purchases the European operations of General Motors.
Business Secretary Greg Clark says the government will work with PSA to makes certain that promises made to workers and pensioners are honored. The British arm of GM’s European business, Vauxhall, employs 4,500 people at plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton.
Clark says he and Prime Minister Theresa May have been in contact with PSA Group and GM and that “they have been clear this deal is an opportunity to grow the Vauxhall brand, building on their existing strengths and commitments.”
Clark says Britain is determined to make the country a center of innovation for “future vehicle technology, including electric vehicles.”
French President Francois Hollande says PSA Group’s purchase of General Motors’ European operations is proof that the French government was right to bail out PSA, maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars.
Hollande praised the deal, saying it heralds “the birth of a European champion of the automobile industry.”
He said the deal shows that “the state was right” to step in twice over the last five years to help ailing PSA. The government and China’s Dongfeng each now own 14 percent of PSA.
Hollande said PSA’s recovery “is now complete.”
PSA and GM announced the $2.3 billion deal Monday. GM’s European business, which includes Germany’s Opel and Britain’s Vauxhall, has not made a profit since 1999.
The leader of the Unite union in Britain says the organization’s priority is to ensure the long-term future of thousands of autoworkers affected by PSA’s purchase of the European operations of GM.
In a statement Monday, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the union will focus its attention on trying to persuade the new management that it makes sense to continue “building in Britain.”
But he insisted there is a role for government as “the uncertainty caused by Brexit is harming the U.K. auto sector.”
The British government is expected to formally trigger two-year discussions of Britain’s exit from the European Union in coming weeks.
Vauxhall, the British arm of GM’s European business, employs 4,500 people at plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, where the Astra and Vivaro models are made.
German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries says French automaker PSA has made a series of commitments regarding the future of carmakers Opel and Vauxhall, which it is buying from General Motors.
In statement, the minister said PSA promised to “keep the existing contracts regarding locations, employment and investments and continues Opel/Vauxhall as an independent brand with an independent management.”
In the statement, which was also signed by the governors of the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Thuringia, Zypries said it’s important that transparency is front and center of the upcoming discussions regarding the takeover.
The unions said they have reached a commitment from PSA that all Opel businesses will be “put under one Opel entity.”
Britain’s former business secretary is warning that the Britain’s departure from the European Union will make it harder to secure Vauxhall jobs in the medium term.
Liberal Democrat Vince Cable told the BBC that there is a “serious question mark” about the car maker’s plants in Britain because of doubt on the future of the customs union and single market.
He says “car components have to go backwards and forwards across frontiers and they will require tariffs and checks.”
Cable suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government would pressure the French to protect plants in her country.