In November it was announced that Opel/Vauxhall was preparing to launch its biggest product offensive to date with seven new or replacement models in 2017, including a successor to its Meriva minivan that will be called the Crossland X.
This launch on a grand scale is mere consolidation of an automotive manufacturing heritage that dates back well over a century in the case of the Opel name.
“In terms of product launches, 2017 will be the most active year in the history of our company,” Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann told reporters at a preview event; some statement to make given the longevity of the Opel name.
“Cars are our passion. With enthusiasm and competence, we develop, build and sell innovative vehicles. This is reflected in the new guiding principle which will accompany you and the Opel brand from now on. We would like to share with you the philosophy, the values and the beliefs behind it.
“”We live cars.” Is the living expression of the long-standing brand values of Opel.
“”We live cars.” Refers not only to our German roots and our love for German engineering. It is also an expression of our dedication and passion that characterizes all our thinking and work.
The “We” stands for the excitement and affirmative, positive attitude who share our employees and dealers together – a prerequisite for the development of intelligent, surprising and innovative products for our customers.
“But we do not just build cars, we live for cars. The word “life” is our high level of energy, an energy that everyone can feel the experienced Opel; Through the variety of sensible functions, inspiring innovations and the fascinating, dynamic design of our vehicles.
“Finally, we believe that “car” in the future will be much more than a motion slow progress. Our vehicles are not just about driving, they are an essential part of our lives.
“We combine our personal experiences with those of our customers to make their daily mobility easier and more enjoyable. By thinking about how we can innovate and sustainably enrich people’s lives every day. A challenging challenge, which will never be completed for us.
“We love cars. That is our passion, commitment, attention to detail, our sense of responsibility, our goal and, yes, our confidence.
“This is what makes us. Opel. We love cars,” states the corporate website.
In actual fact, history tells us that the Opel name pre-dated the first cars. The company was started by Adam Opel AG in the early days of industrialization in Germany.
Adam was born in 1837 and studied locksmithery, heading to Paris in 1858, in the aftermath of the world exhibition.
The city, a high-rise of industrial development, fascinated Adam Opel. He gained experience in the sewing machine industry at various manufacturers in France; he returned this knowledge to Germany in 1862 and produced his first sewing machine in the same year.
By 1886 the business was already diversifying as industrialization reached Germany on a grander scale, with Opel’s sons encouraging him to start producing bicycle wheels. With his sons proving hugely successful in cycling races, the Opel name was soon a byword for quality when it came to bike wheels and as the 19th Century drew to a close, the wheels had rolled past the sewing machines in terms of production and revenues.
Indeed, Opel became the leading German bicycle manufacturer and the world’s largest producer in the following decades due to its model and system diversity.
However, sadness befell Open in September 1895, when its founder Adam Opel passed away.
According to the company website, “Sophie Marie inherited the main body of the company. Together with the sons Carl and Wilhelm, she took over the business and responsibility for more than 1,000 employees – Opel had become the largest employer in the region. But a substantial industry and bicycle crisis forced the family to rethink. In order to prevent layoffs and keep the company healthy, the company turned to a new product: the automobile.”
Within four years, the “Opel patent motor car system Lutzmann” the – first automobile from Opel – performed 3 kW (3.5 hp) and drove 20 km / h fast. Even before the turn of the century the first eleven vehicles were delivered. The technical designs indicate that the company was already using holistic, high-quality solutions at this time.
The new Century presented opportunities and the popularity of the automobile began to catch on around the world.
By 1906 the 1,000th automobile had left the Opel factory and the company had opened its first branch in Berlin.
1937 saw Opel celebrate its 75th anniversary and by now the business was concentrating on automotive production, with the sale of its hugely successful bicycle production company, after 2.6 million built copies.
Also in 1937, the new flagship, the Opel Admiral, was launched on the market with a 3.6 l six-cylinder engine.
The company had developed into the largest automotive manufacturer in Europe for four consecutive years with a workforce of 25,374.
In 1962 Opel celebrated its 100th anniversary – and celebrated in some style, with the opening of a new factory, in Bochum, from where the new Opel cadet was first built. In the Ruhr area, there was ample space – and the company adopted the slogan “A new car from a new factory”. Within four years the one-millionth Opel cadet left the factory.
The growth continued and by the early 1970s Opel was the largest German automotive manufacturer.
Innovation had always played an important role in the evolution of Opel and perhaps the 1980s best demonstrated this fact, with the company becoming the first manufacturer with a complete catalytic converter model series launched in 1985.
With environmental awareness becoming an increasing aspect of life, in 1990 Opel became the first automotive producer to recycle plastic. Among the initiatives in place during production was the elimination of asbestos and cadmium and the sustainable reduction of paint solvents and chlorofluorocarbons.
In 1992 the company opened the doors to the world’s most state of the art automotive factory located in Eisenbach, with Opel now embracing lean manufacturing. Six years later a new company headquarters followed, the Adam Opel House in Rüsselsheim, which was inaugurated by Federal Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl.
As another century drew to a close, in 1999 Opel celebrated the 100th year of car production, with the opening of its new visitor centre Opel Live.
The company has continued to go from strength to strength during the 21st century, so the promises made for 2017 are no idle boast.
The seven new models to go on sale next year are as follows:
The Crossland X small crossover. The Meriva replacement will join the Opel Mokka X SUV in the subcompact segment. Neumann said the Crossland X is aimed at customers who want an SUV-like vehicle but with a less masculine design and more interior space and practicality. The Crossland X has design elements similar to Opel’s Adam “lifestyle” minicar, especially at the C-pillar. It shares its platform with the next Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Picasso. Opel will build it’s the Crossland X and PSA’s versions in Zaragoza, Spain.
A compact crossover that will be sold alongside the Zafira minivan. Opel has not disclosed the name yet but it will include the suffix X. The crossover will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September. It is a sister model to the Peugeot 3008 and will be built by PSA in its Sochaux, France. Neumann said the Zafira minivan will remain on sale to offer buyers a seven-seat vehicle.
Three variants of the Insignia midsize car. For the second generation of its biggest model Opel is calling the five-door version the Insignia Grand Sport to align the name with the Insignia Sports Tourer station wagon and the Country Tourer all-wheel-drive version. Both these will be renewed. The Grand Sport and Sports Tourer will debut at the Geneva auto show in March and
the Country Tourer will arrive in the second half with Opel’s latest awd technology.
The Ampera-e battery powered car, which will arrive in European dealerships in May/June. Opel has not released prices for the EV, which is a sister model of the Chevrolet Bolt. The Ampera-e is expected to cost more than 35,000 euros, partly because it has a large 60 kWh lithium ion battery pack that gives it a range of more than 500 km measured in the New European Driving Cycle.
A new variant of Opel’s Vivaro large van.
Neumann commented that CUVs – crossover utility vehicles – are the “clear trend” in the compact and subcompact segments while traditional minivans are losing share. Opel will use the X letter in the names of all of its new SUVs and crossovers to distinguish them from conventional body styles. “We wanted the name to convey a more adventurous, sportier mind set,” Neumann said.