Wednesday 8 March 2017 5:00 am

Patriotic Vauxhall customers aren’t enough to boost its value image before sale to Peugeot owner PSA

As the owners of French car manufacturer Peugeot agree to purchase the Vauxhall and Opel arm of the General Motors group, it’s a good time to look at the current public perception of the brands being bought.

The European wing of GM has been struggling for some time, with it last making a profit in 1999 – and over the last few years Opel and Vauxhall’s share of the market has slowly shrunk.

YouGov brand tracking data both here and on the continent shows the current state of Vauxhall/Opel’s consumer perception, and how much of a challenge its new owners face in revitalising the brand.

Read more: PSA agrees €2.2bn deal to buy Vauxhall owner's European operations

In the UK, its impression score (whether people have a good impression of the brand) is five points lower than it was in January 2014. While its score of 12 is still positive, it is lower than rivals such as Toyota (22) and Nissan (18).

It is a similar situation when it comes to Vauxhall’s value score (whether people think the brand provides good value for money). While it is comfortably in the top 10 of the automotive sector with a score of 10, it is still some way behind leaders Ford (20).

Read more: MPs to pick over Vauxhall pension scheme and its £840m deficit

The situation is a little healthier in Germany. Opel is in the top 10 of the automotive sector in terms of impression score (18), while in France it ranks in the middle of the sector with a score of 13.

While there have been some reassurances offered to current workers in plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port, there are questions about the long-term commitment to manufacturing Vauxhall models in Britain – due in no small part to the debate over the UK’s changing relationship with Europe.

Read more: Is PSA Group's purchase of Vauxhall good news for Britain?

YouGov Profiles data helps us to explore the motivations of Vauxhall’s current customers.

Our data shows that it matters to Vauxhall customers where their products are made. Almost eight in ten (77 per cent) say that they make an effort to support British businesses (compared to 73 per cent of the public generally), while 73 per cent prefer to buy British brands (vs. 67 per cent of the public).

Given Vauxhall is already struggling to make waves in a competitive sector, it is important to consider whether the brand will continue to be as attractive to British consumers should this connection to the UK be relinquished.