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Vauxhall aspires to be premium brand

General Motors is drawing up plans to move its Vauxhall subsidiary upmarket, AM-online can reveal.

As part of the strategy – intended to fight off the dual-pronged attack from luxury and value brands on the volume segment – a new premium car will head a revitalised line-up.

Repositioning Britain's second biggest volume brand also involves Opel, Vauxhall's sister manufacturer in Germany, and forms part of a major shift toward multi-brand marketing to be rolled out across Europe in the next few years.

GM president and chief executive officer Rick Wagoner says the move has been made possible by the recent acquisition of Daewoo.

“Our strategy for Vauxhall and Opel is to move the brands upscale. Having control of Daewoo means we will be able to cover the entry price point and growth in the eastern segments of the market with lower priced products,” says Wagoner. “What we have in mind is ambitious and we have to be patient. We will take a more multi-brand approach to the European industry than we have in the past, and that will enable us to have a top of the line Opel and Vauxhall.”

Wagoner describes the Daewoo brand as fitting the value segment and adds: 'The nature of the products that are engineered in Germany fit comfortably in the mid market. We feel we can position them to be mid-market priced, rather than down-market – it's a question of using the company's assets to attack the market broadly and help grow the size of the business in Europe.”

GM says the move is not without precedent, citing PSA Peugeot Citroen as an example of how manufacturers can change their image.

“It will take a while to restore the reputation of Opel-Vauxhall, but with multiple brand strategies we can be smarter about managing the brands on a consistent basis over time because there is less pressure to chase volume in the near term,” says Wagoner.

“That's the theory, and the execution is not easy, but we have two choices: either execute it, or sit down and let the value brands eat us from the bottom and the luxury brands get us from the top.”

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