Although 2012 has seen record sales for cars in the U.S. and some emerging markets, the situation in Europe has not been as rosy. Automakers are reporting record losses and lower sales across-the-board in the European market. Brands such as Volkswagen, which has an expansive overseas manufacturing and sales presence, have weathered the storm relatively well, but other brands that are dependent on the European market for most of their sales have not fared as well, such as General Motors Opel division.
In an effort to turn around Opel, Reuters reports GM has tapped Karl-Thomas Neumann, former head of Volkswagen’s China operations, as the division’s new CEO. Prior to his VW China post, Neumann served as CEO of prominent German tire and auto components manufacturer Continental, which has aggressively expanded recently into the area of automotive electronics and turbochargers.
Due to prior non-compete clauses, Neumann may not officially take over as Opel CEO until Summer 2013, although his appointment may be announced earlier in the year. GM announced it expects a full-year 2012 operating loss in Europe of between $1.5 to 1.8 billion. Opel operations are currently being overseen by interim CEO Thomas Sedran, whom GM appointed in July. Neither GM or Volkswagen offered official comment on the matter.