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Holden badge a better bet for Opel: Jacoby

On the way: The Opel/Vauxhall Insignia will be back next year in Holden guise.

GM International Operations chief says Holden knowhow will underpin Opel’s return

Holden logo2 May 2014

GENERAL Motors’ International Operations president Stefan Jacoby has revealed that the Opel brand was closed last August – after only a year on sale in Australia – after it became clear that the European-sourced models would fare better under the Holden brand.

Mr Jacoby denied GM’s decision to pull the pin on Opel was made with foreknowledge of Holden’s local manufacturing shutdown announcement four months later.

However, he emphasised that Holden’s sales and marketing expertise and its comprehensive national dealer network should make the difference between success and failure of Opel-built models in the future.

“I think it is the right approach to count on Holden,” Mr Jacoby said this week at the announcement that GM was bringing back Opel to Australia with Holden badges, starting in the first half of next year with the Cascada convertible and sporting versions of the Astra three-door hatch and Insignia mid-size sedan.

“Holden is the Australian brand within the GM family. I think it was a good decision to pull back Opel and have a restart with Holden with global-sourced product base in the future, and we will also bring products from Europe.” Mr Jacoby believes Holden’s “iconic” reputation will help regain the trust that Australians may have lost in the Astra and Insignia model lines after their abbreviated stint in this country under the standalone Opel brand.

He added that the higher-end performance and/or style-oriented models selected are more in tune with consumer tastes than the more mainstream fare offered last time, although top-flight OPC variants (two of which are returning here as the Astra/Insignia VXR) were on sale for half the time that Opel was trading here.

Opel Australia had sold only around 1600 examples of its Corsa light car, Astra and Insignia from its inception on August 1, 2012, to the time of its pullout announcement exactly one year and one day later.

“First of all these are high-performance vehicles … and they are a perfect fit for the Australian market,” Mr Jacoby said.

“Australian consumers like high performance, they like hatchbacks, so these fit into the market. The Cascada is a new segment and is attractive to Australians (even though) of course it is a niche and in a low-volume segment.

“But the difference is that we have a strong Holden brand and a very competitive dealer network all over the country that will support the sales of these vehicles.” While Mr Jacoby would not name which other Opel-produced models would lob on to Australia’s doorstep moving forward, he did hint strongly that the first wave would not be the last.

It is believed that the more mainstream Astra and Insignia models will help step in for the locally made Cruze and Commodore once Holden ceases local manufacturing in 2017.

The next-generation Corsa light car is also a chance to return, while the Zafira Tourer people-mover and Mokka city SUV were previously on the agenda for sale here in the Opel stable.

The latter is not expected to be a starter given its closeness to the Holden Trax, while the Zafira’s poor previous sales performance under the Holden badge counts against it.

“Holden is one of the strongest and most valuable brands in Australia and we are here for the long haul,” Mr Jacoby said.

“We are putting in place the right plan to make Holden a success for many years to come. Today marks the first step in an exciting new phase of products coming from Holden in the near future.

“I can’t say anything more at this stage, but I will promise you great things will come.”

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