2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
Thomas Sedran sees Chevrolet in a good position for the future despite the current poor sales figures. The head of Chevrolet Europe also expects the BMW i3 to have an impact on its own electric car, Volt.
By Thomas Flehmer
The entry could have started more pleasantly for Thomas Sedran. The new head of Chevrolet Europe had to record a decrease of 22.6 percent in the first eight months with a total of 126,417 units sold. These are numbers that could be cause for concern even in the weak European market. But the 48-year-old, who replaced Susan Docherty at the helm of the GM subsidiary on July 1, exudes confidence. “I see Chevrolet well equipped. We had a good July and a very good August with 13,500 registrations and a market share of 1.5 percent. For us this is a signal to push things further."
Chevrolet shirt sponsor of Manchester United
One of the pillars of the targeted growth is increasing brand awareness, "without putting hundreds of millions into advertising," as the former management consultant says. Because while the brand already has legendary status in America, Chevrolet has only played a stronger role in Europe since 2005, after the name was glued to the vehicles of the Daewoo company. During this time, 1.5 million Chevrolets were sold in Europe, 300,000 of them in Germany.
But even eight years later, models are still being produced in Korea and the range has nothing in common with the great battleships of past decades, which sailed from “Lassie” to “Sex and the City” across the home screen. "It is therefore very important that we will act as a shirt sponsor for Manchester United in the coming year," says Sedran and hopes for "many Champions League games against teams in our core markets." But even then, Europe only plays a subordinate role. The rented chest of the English soccer record champions is intended in particular to increase awareness in the Asian markets, in which Manchester United is very popular.
Hardly any exchange buyers between Chevrolet and Opel
In Europe, Chevrolet is to be redesigned and realigned with a multi-brand strategy. Sedran had presented the concept in April - at that time the former Opel interim boss was still active as strategic director for the Rüsselsheim company - together with his predecessor Docherty on the GM supervisory board. For Sedran it was ultimately a door opener to the European headquarters of Chevrolet after Docherty left the office.
“The strategy is about how to differentiate the brands even more and how profitably market shares can be gained,” says Sedran. “There must be a systematic development of dealers, small-scale fleets and customers. There are many building blocks with which we will try to steal market share from our competitors - but without rushing it."
He rules out cannibalization effects with his former employer. There are indeed buyers who have switched between Chevrolet and Opel, but only around ten percent «and thus significantly less than at other multi-brand companies. There is hardly any interaction between Aveo and Corsa, not even with the Cruze and Astra."
New momentum from the BMW i3
The future will show to what extent cannibalization between the electric cars from Chevrolet and Opel will increase. During the first days of the IAA, the Rüsselsheim-based company had lowered the price of the Ampera by 7600 euros to 38,300 euros and thus also surprised Chevrolet, which followed shortly afterwards. The Volt is now 300 euros cheaper than its Opel counterpart. Otherwise, Sedran puts the price difference between "ten to 15 percent compared to Opel in terms of transaction prices." Either way - the price war is not necessarily a good basis for the multi-brand strategy, even if it was not triggered by Opel, but by BMW, who presented their i3 electric car in Frankfurt, which starts at prices starting at just under 35,000 euros.
Sedran expects the entry of the German manufacturers - VW is also sending the electric Up into the race - but also a certain momentum for electric cars. "We are now very excited to see the reactions of consumers to the BMW i3 and we hope that consumers will be more interested in electromobility." Thanks to the range extender, the car manager still sees the Volt as having an advantage over purely battery-electric vehicles, as the Volt can cover distances of up to 500 kilometers.
Sedran calls for state support for electromobility
However, the BMW i3 will mean “that many people will lose their fear of electric driving, although there has not yet been any news that the drivers of electric vehicles have regularly broken down,” says Sedran. In order to promote electromobility, Sedran then also sees an obligation to the new federal government. "If electromobility is classified as important, the question of state funding arises."
But whether with or without funding, the Volt is a good product in the portfolio, but not one that draws people into car dealerships, says Sedran. “That's what the Corvette or a Camaro is responsible for” - stop the vehicles that were already seen in “Lassie” or “Sex and the City”.
Sedran wants to bring in the harvest
It is a gradual process that potential customers will be more aware of the other models in the next five or six years, "but we are on track," says Sedran. I am not a job hopper and I hope that I can reap the fruits of my labor. It's about taking Chevrolet to the next level. I think it's important to show continuity."
Lately there has been hardly any continuity. Since joining Opel on April 1, 2012, Sedran has held the position of Chief Strategy Officer, Interim Head and then again that of Chief Strategy Officer. After 14 months, I moved to Chevrolet's European headquarters in Zurich. Here, too, continuity is a question of design. Sedran is the third head of Europe within two years. And even the entry could have been friendlier.