Opel’s development chief Rita Forst.
Handelsblatt: Mrs. Forest, you are one of the key figures for the rehabilitation of Opel. 80 percent of the model range will be renewed in the coming years. Is it difficult to face the misunderstandings about the Opel mediate internal mood of optimism about the future?
Forestry: That has always been one of the strengths of our team here in the International Development Center of Opel in Rüsselsheim fact that it also stays cool when the situation is difficult out there – and looks into the future. We focus on the renewal of our product range and to the future alternative propulsion.
GM the developer has already in fact been a guaranteed job. If a majority of the 11 billion euros, the GM Investing want to end up in your budget?
Most of this will be my budget. The money will go mainly to the development of new products and future drive technologies. We will stop in the next few years, even new engineers to handle all these tasks.
If the model range significantly grow?
We will significantly extend the range of models. So we want to continue alongside the new series and many more variants on the basis of existing models on the market. Any company that wants to come quickly to profitability, relies not only on cost reduction, but also on growth. So we know that we are into new products that must reach the customer invest. The issue of efficiency, the issue of global warming and the issue of alternative propulsion systems will play an important role in the future. Opel will expand its offerings of smaller cars much more. For there is a strength of Opel.
Opel Managing Director Nick Reilly has already announced a new mini-cars and Opel at flirted with a coupe and a top model, top of the midsize sedan Insignia. Opel will attack both the lower and the upper segment?
We proceed according to priorities – and the priorities clearly lie on the segment of small and compact cars. So we want to build a new small car that will still be located under the Opel Corsa. This car will be a city car that could come in an electric version on the market.
What are the chances that the small car will be built in Europe?
I would prefer the least. The car needs to go where the markets are. We see great opportunities in Europe for a small city car.
As early as 2011 the electric car Ampera comes in Geneva, you just point the study Flextreme Electric GT / E, a concept for a major electric car. If the tramp play a crucial role in the rebirth of Opel?
Opel is working on a whole family of electric cars to the fuel cell. We want not only a concept like the Opel Ampera on the market, the short thanks to the combination of battery and a small internal combustion engine for both and long distances can be used. We also see a growing market for smaller, but battery-powered vehicles for urban use, if the customer has to travel a longer distance.
Do you believe in a rapid breakthrough of electricity?
That will depend on how the policy sets the framework. It will not go without promotion. The French make our already available. It will not go without an integrated approach that brings the energy operator on board. How much can grow this market, thus depends on the environment and infrastructure. But Opel will safely develop over the next five years different offers on electrical concepts. We have also made a name for it: E-Mobility unlimited.
Last year was circulated at Opel, a plan under the title "The green flash". Stands in front of the Opel Eco-offensive?
We are already in the middle! Remember the Ampera and Flextreme study, we have just shown at the Geneva Motor Show. Opel will be one of the most environmentally-volume manufacturers in Europe, although our preference is to clean and efficient engines. This is not always just a matter of the engine, which is also a question of aerodynamics and the weight of the vehicle. Opel how important this is, you see, not least in my vocation: I come from power train, so the engine division of the company. If, like us, clearly aimed at the volume segment, one can not rely solely on the electrification of the drivetrain. We have a comprehensive plan to play in the smaller, turbocharged engines an increasingly important role. They consume less fuel and offer higher performance.
Restricts the difficult situation of their parent company GM Your opportunities are not one?
GM has maintained in the crisis, its research spending substantially. We have the advantage that we have to enter into any new collaborations with other producers, because we can rely on the technology of the world represented parent company. This also means that we bring in the definition of these technologies, our European requirements. Otherwise it would not work.
Opel will continue to get more autonomy in terms of the development of its models. Will you use this new freedom?
If the global technology supply the parent company of European requirements are not met, then we are now looking for the degree of freedom and even a solution. The focus on the European customers and to the European market is the big change we have seen in recent months.
Will there be new collaborations with other producers?
We are not by routine. I think, given the volume of technical challenges – fuel cells, electric vehicles, hybrid – it will come to strengthen cooperation in research. I also think that Opel can reach Technical Cooperation in Europe, where it financially makes sense.
Also the design for Opel’s model range will continue to have the last word. Will we see here a new handwriting?
Opel has given more autonomy on the part of product design. You will notice also in the appearance of the vehicles. The successful design line, which we will have begun as early as last year with the Insignia, and continue now with the new Astra and Meriva, also feed into the new products.
Throw up as a woman, a different perspective on cars than men?
I’m an engineer and therefore I have a closeness to technology. My dream of a car is environmentally friendly, highly efficient, but it must also offer fun and sportiness.
Enter nevertheless perhaps other stimuli?
Difficult question. Of course I have as a person, a relatively large impact on the priorities that we share the future with the models. And of course I judge a vehicle not only as an expert, but also as a customer. Since it may well be that this aspect of our future cars flows.
Opel is female?
I would prefer a different wording. I believe that my vocation has shown Opel, such as open-minded and turned forward, the company is.
Mrs. Forst, if you look ahead to what Opel is to be in five years as a brand?
We have a big task ahead of us. Our products are already excellent, but which is not recognized everywhere. I hope that Opel is in five years for affordable innovation, German engineering, environmentally friendly technologies and clever concepts.
And with what kind of car you will then get to work?
I live 60 kilometers away from Rüsselsheim. I assume that I will be with the Opel Ampera, our electric car with extended range, go to the office.