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Holden  Safe for now: Holden has just launched the Astra Down Under, but the model’s future is unclear beyond this generation.

Safe for now: Holden has just launched the Astra Down Under, but the model’s future is unclear beyond this generation.

Holden product rollout to continue but questions remain about next-gen models

GENERAL Motors has reaffirmed its commitment to the Holden brand and insists the Australian company’s mid-term product plans would not change following confirmation this week that France’s PSA Group will purchase GM’s struggling European brands, Opel and Vauxhall.

Questions were raised after the announcement about Holden’s product line-up going forward, particularly with the company’s commitment to sourcing about a third of its forthcoming 24 new models from Europe by 2020.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the Geneva motor show overnight, GM president Dan Ammann said it was too soon after the announcement to discuss specifics of the deal, but highlighted the respect many high-ranking GM executives have for Holden.

These include former heads of Holden Mark Reuss (now executive vice-president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain) and Alan Batey (now GM North America president), and global design chief Mike Simcoe.

Holden center image Left: GM president Dan Ammann

“What I want to emphasise is we are 100 per cent committed to the business in Australia and New Zealand,” he said. “We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline and it is going to be a really good period of time for the business down there.

“There are a lot of people inside GM that have a lot of history with Holden. There is nothing we want more than to see the business be successful and prosper down there and we are totally committed to that happening.

“We have made various decisions in different parts of world for various reasons … but we are absolutely committed to filling the pipeline of product in the way that we are doing right now and the way we are going to do it going forward for business down there.”

Mr Ammann said that “no specific decisions” had been made about whether Holden would source its next generation of product next decade from PSA-Opel or if it would pick up more product from Chevrolet in the US.

“I’d say as a result of yesterday’s announcement, there is more opportunity not less going forward,” he said.

Mr Ammann would not be drawn on what Holden’s product line-up would look like once the latest-generation models – including the Astra hatch and forthcoming Opel Insignia-based Commodore – are replaced.

“Clearly the current models that are just launching we will run through their full lifecycle and what we do beyond that is yet to be determined,” he said.

Mr Ammann added that future Opel product that has already been announced – such as the yet-to-be-announced Opel SUV to be built at Russelsheim, Germany, later this decade – is unlikely to be affected.

“I’d say for the overall Opel-Vauxhall product plan, it will either stay in tact or actually expand,” he said.

GM’s recent focus on engineering new models for both left- and right-hand-drive markets would mean that the loss of the UK-market Vauxhall brand from GM would not impact RHD model development, Mr Ammann said.

“As we have been developing the next generation of all of our architectures globally, we have increased, not decreased, the flexibility for right-hand drive and made it a much easier thing to do so we remain totally committed to that,” he said.

The New Zealand native said Opel, and therefore Holden, would continue to use the Astra nameplate into the future.

When asked by GoAuto whether GM was giving any consideration to ditching the Holden brand in Australia and replacing it with the more global Chevrolet name, Mr Amman responded simply: “No.”

He said GM would continue to work with the new, expanded PSA Group on projects, including looking at more electrification for the all-important Chinese market, and for the American company to produce PSA-branded models in Korea.

Mr Ammann also said that increasing production volume in Europe from just over one million units with Opel to more than three million when combined with the PSA Group would make it easier to address the various regulatory issues, such as emissions, that are common in Europe.

PSA Group earlier this week PSA Group agreed to purchase Opel and Vauxhall for €1.3 billion ($A1.8b) and €0.9 billion ($A1.3b) respectively in the final quarter of this year.


Holden  Safe for now: Holden has just launched the Astra Down Under, but the model’s future is unclear beyond this generation.










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