Not even a week ago, Michael Lohscheller was playing very hard. Opel will reinvent the Manta by the middle of the decade, of course with an electric drive, he told parent company Stellantis at the conference. And the traditional brand from Rüsselsheim will be fully electric by 2028, meaning it will no longer sell gasoline and combustion engines in Europe. But soon appear in China. Here is the new Opel: young at heart, green and positioned around the world.
It is an exciting project that Lohscheller initiated. But, surprisingly, he won’t participate himself. Like Stellantis, this structure of the Italian-French-American group, announced Tuesday, the business graduate will leave his duties as boss of Opel. Lohscheller decided to take a job outside of the Stellantis group, he said without further details.
Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares thanked Lohscheller for creating a strong and lasting foundation for the company with Opel employees. “This impressive turnaround now paves the way for the brand’s global expansion.” In fact, something remarkable has happened in Rüsselsheim in recent years. Opel had been in the red for many years, run carelessly by parent company General Motors, it was a constant struggle for existence from the 1990s. In 2017, French group PSA bought the brand from the Americans – and Carlos Tavares has promoted the former CFO and Opel Marathon runner Lohscheller.
Was he simply carrying out the diktat of austerity in Paris?
Lohscheller organized the restructuring and redevelopment of the company in the friendliest way possible with the employees: thousands of jobs were cut and much of the development center sold, but there were no layoffs for reasons operational. The three sites of Rüsselsheim, Kaiserlautern and Eisenach remained in place – and, as you can see, Opel survived. The brand has even recently written exceptional turnover: last year, when some manufacturers slipped into the red because of the Corona, Opel made 595 million euros in profit. A change that requires the respect of a large part of the IG Metall union.
What the critics said: The Bocholter-born was only carrying out the austerity diktats of the efficiency fanatic Tavares. In any case, the German had little legroom. Under the hood of the new models are platforms also used by the brands PSA Citroën and Peugeot. And since PSA joined forces with Fiat-Chrysler at the start of the year, Opel is ultimately just one of many brands. Lohscheller’s mission was to preserve “Germanity”, that is to say specifically German. But what is there still in German when Paris is pretending so much? The question arises all the time this year. And perhaps this is the reason for the surprising finish.
From the rumor mill in the auto industry, it is said that Lohscheller could move on to Volkswagen, where he previously held a management position. This has not been confirmed, but it might make sense: at VW they look very carefully and with respect to Stellantis. Lohscheller could bring Tavares efficiency to Wolfsburg. His successor in Rüsselsheim is already determined: the former German boss of competitor Renault, Uwe Hochgeschurtz, is to lead the brand with love at first sight from September 1.