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Opel to build new flagship SUV

M-onza cards: Opel Group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann and GM CEO Mary Barra at the announcement of the forthcoming SUV in Germany (Opel Monza concept pictured below).

New halo SUV from Opel due before 2020 could have Australian input

Opel logo22 Nov 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

GENERAL MOTORS has announced it will produce an all-new SUV model under its European Opel nameplate to sit alongside its current flagship Insignia large sedan.

During a visit to Germany, GM CEO Mary Barra made the announcement confirming the global car giant would invest the equivalent of A$356m at the Opel Rüsselsheim factory where the new model is to be built.

A further investment of more than $727m has also been chalked to upgrade its engine and transmission facilities at Rüsselsheim, Kaiserslautern and Tychy as a mark of its commitment to the future of the Opel brand and future-proofed fuel-efficient powertrains, says GM.

No other details of the new vehicle were confirmed in the release, but the company said Opel's “second flagship” would be rolling off production lines by the end of the decade and would be sold in Europe as well as the United Kingdom where it will be badged as a Vauxhall.

Whether the mysterious model is going to be made available in Australia wearing Holden badges is yet to be decided, but given the local market’s taste for SUVs, launching the new model here is not out of the question.

Holden senior product communications manager Kate Lonsdale reminded GoAuto that the Australian car-maker plans to source a third of its future line-up from the European GM cache, but the exact list was still under discussion.

“We made the announcement earlier this year that over a third of our product would come from Europe in the future,” she said. “But what those vehicles are, at this stage, has not been revealed, apart from we have talked about the product that is coming next year.” As for Australia's involvement in the development of the new SUV, that too is still unclear, but Ms Lonsdale said the Australian design centre's experience with global vehicles make it a candidate.

“Certainly our design studio these days is very much a global design studio,” she said. “They are working on every other brand because there will be no model specific to just Holden.

“You name it, Buick, Chevrolets, Opels and everything in between. Specifics we can't talk about, but certainly they are designing cars for all parts of the GM world.

“We have got a really good track record of designing small cars, large cars, futuristic cars, concept cars, we have got a really good reputation of being quite flexible with what we take responsibility for.” GoAuto understands major manufacturers like GM and Ford invite its various design houses to pitch concepts for new models from around the world, and the new SUV design would be no exception.

All submissions go into a selection process with the winner not necessarily located in the vehicle's intended market.

Therefore, Australia's Holden design centre would almost certainly be preparing a concept for the newly announced Opel SUV job if it hadn't done so already.

Its eventual styling could resemble the Opel Monza large SUV concept that debuted at the Frankfurt motor show last year, but final production aesthetics will still be a long way off at this early stage of the model's development.

German publication Autobild reports the new vehicle will share a platform from GM owned American car-maker Buick and borrow engines from the forthcoming next-generation Opel Insignia range.

One possibility is the Epsilon II platform which will provide the foundation for the next generation Insignia, but even if the report is to be believed, the information does not confirm what size the SUV will be.

That information will have to wait until further down the line along with all the vehicle's other technical details.

Without exact timing and details of the new vehicle it is not clear if the new addition could potentially replace any of the Holden SUV fleet, including the ageing Captiva large SUV, which is due for a facelift in the second half of 2015.

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