FRANKFURT (Reuters) - General Motors’ (GM.N) ailing European unit Opel aims to boost its sales volumes in China sixfold, its chief executive told a German financial daily on Friday, as it seeks to counter its shrinking home market.
Opel’s sales target for China is tiny compared with the 2.55 million vehicles its parent sold there last year, according to filings. Thirty thousand Opel cars in one year would represent just over a tenth of the volume GM sold in China in April alone.
“Last year we sold around 5,000 cars there. We want to improve that step by step to ten, twenty or thirty thousand,” Karl-Friedrich Stracke said in an interview with Handelsblatt.
“We also have Australia in our sights, where we want to begin with sales in the fourth quarter.”
German labor leaders and unions at Opel are publicly pressuring management to seek opportunities for exporting, since the brand is almost solely dependent on a European market that has shrunk for the fifth year in a row.
Known as Vauxhall in the UK, the brand sold over 1.21 million vehicles in Europe, including Russia and Turkey, last year.
Stracke dismissed estimates that Opel and Vauxhall had lost $14 billion altogether in the past ten years.
“That figure is not correct, since it refers to GM Europe, which has long included Saab as well. The GM component plant in Strasbourg is also counted along,” he told the newspaper.
Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Erica Billingham