I remember the Vauxhall Insignia being launched at the 2008 London Motor Show. Following on from the much-maligned Vectra, this was the company’s chance to showcase to the world that it could compete with the Ford Mondeo, even the bigger German brands.
So the choice of a beige model, on a relatively plain stand, was something of a letdown. The Insignia hasn’t recovered and is not challenging the Mondeo – its main competitor, for sales.
Meanwhile we have Peugeot, a car company that once had character, with the cracking 205 GTI still on the list of many petrolhead’s most loved cars. You will be hard pushed to find a 308 or 207 on the same list however, as the French manufacturer has churned out some very well functioning vehicles that are hardly going to set the world alight.
With GM, once one of the globe’s biggest vehicle manufacturers, now relinquishing its last stronghold in the EU market to PSA, the deal unites two manufacturers of perfectly functioning vehicles that don’t require glitz and glamour to get their jobs done. The Vauxhall and Opel brands have been losing the US giant money for the last 15 years so perhaps it is time for a European powerhouse to have a go at adding some jus.
Of course we look at EU manufacturers and VAG comes up top. However, the company is hardly in a position to add to its roster and somehow Vauxhall wouldn’t have fitted in well alongside VW, Skoda and Seat. PSA churns out models, has its Citroen brand to deliver some fun (if questionable) designs and can therefore offer a lifeline to the old British brand, formed as a pump and marine engine manufacturer in London.
If the company does it right, there should be no question of losing the Vauxhall plants in Cheshire and Luton, even if there is no free-trade deal agreed as part of the Brexit negotiations. Most of the vehicles and engines built in the UK are shipped out to overseas customers under the Opel branding, but Vauxhall is a big enough company and manufacturer to demand its own plants, while engines may be swapped around within PSA itself. That side of the manufacturer has always been a weakness – just ask anyone who drove the 1.4 Vauxhall Adam – so again, a fresh perspective and some French flair could see the company begin to grow again.