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Opel Mokka mooted by year’s end

Wish list: Opel Australia is keen to bring the Mokka crossover Down Under to widen its local footprint.

Sub-compact Opel Mokka SUV set for Australian launch by the end of 2013

Opel logo14 Feb 2013

OPEL is still confident of releasing its long-awaited Mokka in Australia by the end of this year, but only if there is enough allocation to satisfy stronger-than-expected global demand.

With 80,000 orders already taken even before its launch at the Geneva motor show next month, Opel Australia managing director Bill Mott declined to announce a local on-sale date.

However he did reveal that the Mokka’s business case has been completed and that its fate now rests on availability for Australia.

“Ideally, if we were to get it, we would launch it to coincide with the (next) Aussie summer… but we will take it when we can get it,” he told GoAuto at the launch of Opel’s OPC performance brand in Sydney this week.

“I just can’t confirm it because I don’t know yet exactly when I can get it.

“We need that car, I am very keen, and I’ve already raised my hand.

“Mokka’s been a huge success already in Europe. They’ve got 80,000 orders. My concern is that, as much as I am happy for the success that car is having in Europe, it comes down to allocation and when we can get that vehicle. So I’d hate to say it (but) I am almost wishing my colleagues in Europe limited volume.

“We do have a business case put together for that car. The things that have to happen... they have already been done. I am optimistic that we will get an approval – but I don’t have it yet.”

52 center imageLeft: Opel Australia managing director Bill Mott.

Opel is working full steam ahead with the South Korean manufacturing site in Bupyeong to ensure there is enough stock for the various General Motors brands (Opel, Chevrolet, Buick and Holden) to access.

“There are still a few more hurdles that we have to jump,” Mr Mott added.

“But it’s not that there are people standing in my way. Opel (AG in Germany) is being very supportive. We just have to make sure it all works, that the timing works.”

With Holden’s version of the Mokka – the Trax – also due out this year, Opel is confident that the various differences between the two vehicles means there will be no stepping on each other’s toes in terms of pricing and market positioning.

Furthermore, the SUV segment is big enough to accommodate both.

“We have to see here how it makes sense (to price the Mokka),” Mr Mott said.

“But what we’re not seeing here in our dealerships are customers coming in and shopping Opel and Holden – we’re just not seeing. We’re seeing customers coming in with old Astras, but they’re shopping against Mazdas and Hondas and European brands.

“I think the Mokka is quite a different looking and driving vehicle (to the Trax), so it will be interesting to see how much overlap there is today there is none.”

Mr Mott said the European experience – where the Mokka is on sale against the Chevrolet Trax – suggests the same will also happen in Australia.

“It is not an issue in Europe, where this vehicle is already on sale along with the Chevrolet version,” he explained. “Demand is still massive.

“This is a vehicle where Opel engineering has been involved from the very start. So it’s going to have an Opel chassis, an Opel powertrain, and it will have all the innovations that we have presented in our other car lines like the AFL lighting… so it’s going to be a real Opel, and I think that has already been demonstrated with the Mokka’s success in the marketplace.

“And the biggest success of that has been in Germany. So I do not have any doubt that the Mokka will be significantly different in terms of looks, feel, and driving experience to the Chevrolet and Holden product.

“(Overlapping with Holden) is certainly something we considered. The notion of us coming to this market would have to make sense for General Motors. It would have to be plus volume for General Motors.

“If we’re just robbing Peter to pay Paul, what is the point? And we are very confident that this wouldn’t be the case, and the numbers are bearing it out.

“SUVs are booming in this market – they make up a third of the market. So you’re out of a third of the market if you don’t have one.

“The Mokka’s been a huge success. There’s something to it that makes me want it, and the segment is still booming in Australia – it’s going one way, and that’s north. Why wouldn’t I want it?“And as soon as I have confirmation (for Mokka timing) I’ll tell the dealers and I’ll let (the Australian media) know.”

The main engine choice for the Mokka will be a variation of the 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit found in the base Astra hatch, although it also highly likely that the 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit will make it at launch as well.

“In Europe we’ve got a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and a 96kW/300Nm 1.7-litre diesel engine, so that’s what we’ve got to pick from,” Mr Mott said.

“Demand for both engines has been high across Europe. Southern Europe it’s all about the diesel engine, but in the UK they love the petrol engine. In Germany it’s been fifty/fifty, so we will have to see how the (engine choices for Australia) pans out.”

As we reported last year, Holden in Australia has been responsible for all engine calibration work globally, with testing carried out at Lang Lang in Victoria.

Asked if the upcoming Nissan Juke poses the biggest threat to Mokka, Mr Mott said he doesn’t think buyers will regard it as a direct competitor“The Juke’s been incredibly successful in Europe, but it’s a totally different animal… a lifestyle crossover SUV,” he said.

“It’s one to watch, but whether our vehicle competes directly with it, I don’t know. I don’t know how many Mokka buyers would be considering that car.

“It seems to me when I saw the data (for the Juke in Europe) that a lot of people were coming out of the light car segment – having driven a Corsa or a Polo – and into that car.

“They’re not making a full leap into an SUV… so it’s more of an SUV concept, and a unique animal. But I don’t know the impact it will have (in Australia) or how many people will be considering a Mokka or that car.”

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