Akerson bullish on PSA alliance, Opel's new models
December 13, 2012
by Peter Brown and James B. Treece and Mike Colias
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson is steadily putting his stamp on the automaker. He is forging a cost-saving alliance with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and is bullish about Opel's entry into new segments with the debuts of the Adam minicar and Mokka subcompact SUV. Akerson met recently at GM headquarters in Detroit with Automotive News Editorial Director Peter Brown, Industry Editor James B. Treece and Staff Reporter Mike Colias to talk about the company's future.
How would you characterize the PSA/Peugeot-Citroen partnership so far?
We've been in constructive dialogue for a long time. It's complicated because the uncertainty surrounding the European market specifically makes any move in this area one that has to be carefully considered.
We're in new product segments that we were not in [before with] the Adam and the Mokka, which has over 50,000 orders. These aren't just wish list [orders]; these are good orders. The Adam has gotten rave reviews versus the Mini and the Fiat 500. We need to solidify our market position. We need to improve on our material costs.
Has your relationship with PSA saved you any money so far on material costs?
No. [But] the logistics deal we did with Gefco for Europe should kick in during the first quarter, but we're looking at a much broader alliance than that.
What do you need to do to be a legitimate competitor against BMW and Mercedes-Benz?
The segment of the luxury brand we need to be successful in is the small luxury segment, and that's the [Cadillac] ATS.
How about the BMW 7-series fighter that people have long talked about? What factors do you consider in whether to do a car like that?
The progress we make in the marketplace and re-establishing the brand not only in North America but also China is one factor. The success that we have in brand building around the world is another.
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