Why do Vauxhall and Opel sell the same cars?
Its a personal question I've always wondered about and I've eventually found the answer
Have you ever wondered why Vauxhall and Opel share the same basic cars? I have ever since I knew that Opel existed.
You see, some companies like the idea of badge engineering to save money in R&D. Take VW for example. For the executive SUV class they have the following cars to offer you: VW Touareg, Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and finally the Kanyeghini Urus. All but the Bentley and the Audi are useless since nobody buys an SUV to race around the track and who pays over £70k for a VW?
This example is badge engineering taken to a new level.
Before any joint involvement
Opel was founded in 1862 when the original plan was to make sewing machines. After this they made bikes from 1886 and transitioned to the car brand we know today in 1899. At this point Mercedes and Benz were the two big players in Germany(yes they were once separate companies-that's another story for later) and Opel had some catching up to do.
The solution? Becoming Germany's Ford.
Opel was the first brand to have a mass-production assembly line in Germany so their cars were much cheaper then the German competition and by 1928 they had nearly 40% of the German car market(not that many could afford the car but anyway)
Vauxhall as a company started in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer and was first given the name Vauxhall 6 years later under new ownership. In 1903 they decided that they would make cars. The breakthrough car was the Y-Type which was extremely popular and faster then the competition.
Contrary to popular belief now at this time Vauxhall was actually a sport-orientated brand. Imagine that in an Astra today!
This is where the two companies start to share similarities. In 1925 Vauxhall was bought by the US motor titans for $2.5 million($38.5 million today) and quickly set about turning them into the everyday car that we know them for being today.
In 1928 GM purchased a majority 80% stake in Opel and in 1931 upped that to 100%.
After WW2 where Vauxhall made tanks instead of cars Vauxhall's business was booming while Opel was struggling like the rest of Germany after the collapse of the Third Reich.
While West Germany experienced an economic resurgence with British/American help after WW2 and Opel directly improved as a result in the late 1960's the UK hit rock bottom. Communism had worked its way into British factories. Build quality was woeful. The build rarely ever happened as the workers were always on strike. Sales nosedived. General Motors had to take drastic action to stop Vauxhall going the same way as British Leyland.
The cheapest solution? Rebadge those Opels.
In 1972 the last proper Vauxhall, the Victor FE, rolled off the production line and from here on out they were just Opels.
The last actual Vauxhall ever made.
One last thing-why not just sell them as Opels?
Its to do with brand recognition. If they were sold as Holdens do you think that granny would know what the badge on John Coleman's car meant? If you tried to sell a Vauxhall Insignia in China though it wouldn't make a difference since they copy the designs anyway.
The Insignia is possibly the laziest badge engineering ever though.
4 cars, 4 brands and all of them look the same! Just use one badge for this joke attempt at a good car.
Please Stellantis: Separate Vauxhall and Opel and turn one into a sports car brand. Then the cars might be worthy of the two separate badges.
Anyway I hope that was interesting.