Ever since the PSA Group (Peugeot-Citroen) announced its intention to purchase Opel from General Motors earlier this year, it’s been all but common knowledge that the German and French brands would share platforms and engines.
But now the French carmaker has confirmed in an interview with Automobilwoche that it intends to gradually move Opel products over to PSA platforms and engines, although this won't happen “overnight” but rather over the course of a few years.
Both are due in South Africa, starting with the Crossland X later this year, but the use of PSA engines will have a negative impact on the pricing of these and other models.
Currently Opel is able to import the 1-litre (as in 999cc) turbocharged Corsa, Adam and Astra hatchbacks to South Africa at highly competitive prices due to an import duty loophole that exists for engines smaller than 1000cc. However, despite the fact that this engine would be a perfect fit for the Crossland X and Grandland X, these crossovers are instead fitted with PSA’s 1.2-litre turbocharged engine, which due to its displacement doesn’t qualify for the local duty exemption.
It seems inevitable that the Corsa and Astra will eventually switch to this engine too, which would lead to a price hike in South Africa, but it remains to be seen whether this would affect the current models or whether PSA would wait for the next-generation versions, which would also inevitably slot onto PSA platforms.
However, there is still some duty-dodging hope in the form of the Opel Karl (above), a budget hatchback based on the Chevrolet Spark and currently sporting a 1-litre normally aspirated engine. The Karl (just change that name please) is a no-brainer for the SA market and could drive some much-needed traffic into local showrooms as the brand kicks off a new era under the Williams Hunt banner. Perhaps they could even get nostalgic and call it the Cub?
The switch to PSA engines will of course, also have some negative consequences abroad, with fears that the company would close some of its engine plants and engineering facilities.
However, besides the improved efficiencies of scale that would result from a switch to PSA engines and platforms, a key motivating factor is licensing fees that PSA must pay GM for the use of its technologies and patents found in current Opel products. According to Automotive News Europe, PSA intends to do away with these overheads as quickly as possible.
It makes sense on all pragmatic levels, but for many a petrolhead it's going to be sad to witness the end of a long and illustrious era of Opel engineering.