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Holden small-car strategy crystallises

Cruze control: Holden's future small-car strategy is not yet locked in, but the next-gen Cruze (left) could sit alongside the Astra (below) in Holden showrooms in the future.

GM Holden sales boss believes both Astra and Cruze can exist in Australia


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29 Jun 2015


GM HOLDEN says it has not yet ruled out the next-generation Cruze for Australia, despite the company’s increasing reliance on the Opel-sourced Astra hatch range out of Europe.

With all-new versions of both General Motors small cars revealed in recent weeks, Holden will most likely broaden the Astra line-up next year with the five-door hatch ‘K’ series models to supplement the existing ‘J’ series GTC and VXR coupes as its premium rivals to the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.

This will leave space for the next-gen Cruze to continue to serve as Holden’s entry-level answer to the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 well after the current JH-series model ceases production in Australia in 2017.

While not confirming the latter for Australia, GM Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley said that there is enough differentiation between the Chevrolet and Opel-sourced small cars for both to co-exist harmoniously in showrooms.

“Would I rule it out? No. But I’m not confirming it either,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Insignia VXR performance sedan in New Zealand last week.

“What we want to avoid is having two cars competing head-on in the showroom floor. As we’re able to position cars through features, styling, and other benefits, and to have them positioned to compete for a particular type of buyer, (I think you can) absolutely have cars of a similar ilk in the showroom, as long as you position them quite differently.

“We don’t want to be cannibalising our sales internally, we want to be out there cannibalising our competitors.”

Even though the Astra J coupes have been in Holden showrooms since April, Mr Keley said it is too early to judge the success of the two-pronged small-car strategy, adding that the latter’s full marketing push will not commence until later in July.

“Our actual advertising doesn’t start until the third week in July on the Astra, so it’s still in a pre-launch phase,” he said.

“But reactions have been very positive. And the cars, as they are, are very clearly positioned clearly apart from the Cruze product. And the initial reaction from our dealers has been fantastic. We’re getting significant amounts of web traffic on the vehicles and customers are starting to come into showrooms.” Holden will most likely take an Australian motoring press contingent to the Frankfurt Motor Show in September for a closer look at the Astra K five-door hatchback range, underlining the importance of the car in this country.

While there is no confirmation of an Astra K three-door replacement for the current GTC/VXR models, Chevrolet has again developed a five-door hatchback version of the next Cruze, and will offer it in North America for the first time. Both vehicles are based on GM’s new D2XX platform.

Meanwhile, as part of 24 new models or updates and 30 powertrain combinations by 2020, a mid-size SUV replacement for the ageing Captiva 5 that is likely to be built on the same Astra/Cruze architecture and compete against the Mazda CX-5 is also expected within the next two years.

While Mr Keley declined to comment on that vehicle, he said that Holden is about to undertake a massive SUV marketing push.

“The SUV market is the fastest growing segment, and SUVs are a very strong part of Holden’s future portfolio line-up,” he said. “And if you look at our SUV portfolio in two years time you’ll see it as strong and competitive as any SUV portfolio in the Australian market.

“So it’s definitely where we need to be to achieve our aspirations in the marketplace.”

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