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Holden's flagship Caprice in for a treat

Defining moment: "We are talking about how we can redefine the car," said Holden executive director sales and marketing Ross McKenzie of the Caprice.

Holden's weakest link in its passenger car line-up, the Caprice, comes under the spotlight

24 Sep 2001

HOLDEN'S Caprice flagship will have some love and attention lavished on it in an attempt to boost its miniscule share of the luxury market.

The Caprice V8 broke through the $70,000 barrier with the recent WHII upgrade to make it the most expensive Holden ever - apart from the HSV performance brand.

It has been identified as the weakest link in a dominant passenger car line-up, commanding just 2.2 per cent of the VFACTS official luxury segment sales - or 335 cars - year-to-date.

Holden aims for 10 per cent of any market segment it contests, calling that "effective market share", although that's a hard ask for Caprice in a market segment as splintered as this one.

Theoretical competitors for the Caprice include the great names in luxury motoring - Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar and Audi.

One of the few consolations for Holden would be that the Ford LTD is even worse off than Caprice, managing to snare just 0.7 per cent - or 100 sales - of the luxury market year-to-date.

"We are big enough as an organisation and dealer network that if we get less than 10 per cent, it's not really good enough," Holden executive director sales and marketing Ross McKenzie said.

"We're getting at least 10 per cent in every segment except the top-end with Caprice where we are running at about 2 per cent and I am not happy with that."Some effort went into making Caprice more attractive at WHII time, this the only car in the Holden range with Holden Assist telematics standard.

But the price rise of 2.59 per cent for the V6 Caprice and an even 3 per cent for the V8 were the two biggest hikes announced for the range.

The next step is expected to be a television advertisement which will air in October, more telematics services including voice activation in 2002 and then more new technology around the time of the WK in early 2003.

"We are talking about how we can redefine the car, what do we need to do," Mr McKenzie said.

"Do we need to reposition it? Do we need to do something with it to try and lift the performance, recognising we're up against some top end stuff that we don't realistically compete against.?"Mr McKenzie said part of the problem was of Holden's making - the superior value of Statesman compared to Caprice.

"In many respects we've actually made Statesman a lot better than it used to be," he said.

"It used to be a pretty average car but Statesman's now a bloody flash car and, to be fair, the Caprice has got a badge on the front and some dress-up stuff and it's hard to justify the extra $13 grand."Yet Mr McKenzie said the $70,000 asking price for Caprice was not a key in deterring potential buyers.

"The list price isn't all that relevant, because all that stuff gets turned into lease payments which are $550-$600 per month, and in the total scheme of things in a company fleet it gets lost in the wash," he said.

"It's more to do with the prestige of the car. Is it an appropriate flagship car for somebody who is the top-end bloke?"

Astra on the up

HOLDEN could add further upmarket variants of the Astra to its range in 2002 as part of its plan to ward off the all-new Toyota Corolla range, a new Mitsubishi Lancer sedan and the renewal of Ford's Laser.

Possibly called CDX - as it is branded in Europe - an upmarket Astra would also be designed to capture buyers who previously might have been after second-hand European product, such as the BMW 3 Series.

The upmarket Astra is not guaranteed for next year as Holden is still doing its sums.

Next up in the Astra expansion plan is the convertible, launched in late December.

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