GM Eyeing World Rally Championship Return
November 30, 2010
by Viknesh Vijayenthiran
General Motors is looking at making a return to the World Rally Championship after a hiatus of more than 20 years. The move is being considered as just one strategy to boost the performance credentials of its Opel division, which remains unprofitable in Europe.
The information was revealed by the president of GM’s European operations, Nick Reilly, who spoke recently with The Detroit News. According to Reilly, some success in motorsport will help attract younger buyers to GM and its respective brands.
"Sport is an important area, and to me, a car company ought to be able to compete," Reilly said. "It's very significant to us, the brand image, and in our view it's not as strong as the product. We're winning lots of awards but Opel and Vauxhall probably don't command the prices they deserve."
The World Rally Championship currently has just two automakers competing, Ford and PSA Peugeot Citroen. But just a few years back there were several firms including Subaru, Mitsubishi and Suzuki, all of which have pulled out from the competition due to financial reasons.
Reilly admits a return to the World Rally Championship was possible, though he concedes that it is an expensive option. However, GM has had much success with its Chevrolet Cruze touring cars in other sports, even winning the World Touring Car Championship last month, and Reilly admits that this has helped the Chevrolet brand considerably in Europe.
You can bet the same would happen if GM proves successful in the heated arena that is the World Rally Championship.