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Future models - Opel - Insignia - concept

First look: Opel has a Holden link

Commodore cousin: The Opel Insignia should have plenty of Aussie technology on board when it is launched in Europe in 2006.

Opel reveals its new large concept car - and it has strong links to Holden

10 Sep 2003

GENERAL Motors’ European arm Opel has shown its future design direction for a large sedan at the Frankfurt motor show this week.

The exciting local link for the Opel Insignia show car is that a future production version is tipped to be underpinned by Holden’s forthcoming VE platform and be powered by the Melbourne-built HFV6 engine.

With Holden now considered the auto giant’s centre of excellence for large rear-drive passenger cars, General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner told GoAuto in Frankfurt this week that Holden has the engineering knowledge and capability to engineer such a car.

But he stopped short of confirming whether the Australians would be handed the task.

"I won’t make any announcement on behalf of Holden," he said.

GM’s worldwide product czar Bob Lutz also told GoAuto that the platform underpinning the new generation Opel flagship, not due for production until the Omega is discontinued in 2006, would be eventually produced in three continents.

That ties in with plans to build the VE platform in Australia and the US - the latter plan edging closer to public confirmation. The Insignia program would mean platform production in Europe as well.

So what does Holden say? "In terms of Insignia, the only thing given that the final VE platform hasn't been signed off is it wouldn't be fair to suggest that there is a VE platform under the (concept) car," said Holden spokesman Jason Laird.

"We are obviously aware they were doing the car but we didn't have input into it." Mr Laird said the real issue was getting VE under the production Insignia as part of a global platform deal with GM.

"The VE platform has not been signed off yet and the issue about global platform sharing ... is still being assessed in terms of it ultimately being signed off as a project," said Mr Laird.

"We are very hopeful that it proceeds, but it has still not been signed off." The latest work from Opel design boss Martin Smith - the athletic, coupe-like Insignia - is a move away from the traditional three-box sedan luxury car philosophy the German marque has pursued in the past.

Its most striking elements are its electrically operated "pantograph-action" rear doors and tailgate, although other features such as its bold nose and broad shoulder lines could be found on the next wave of GM luxury cars, including future Statesman and Caprice models. The interior can be converted from four to five seats.

Mr Laird said there was no styling inferences that could be taken from the Insignia in terms of future Holden product.

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