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Holden Commodore sales to fall with imported car

Different strokes: Holden expects its imported NG Commodore due early next year will attract a different buyer to the current Australian-built model, with sales volume to take a hit as a result.

Sales focus for Holden to move from Commodore to Astra, Colorado, SUVs in 2018

Holden logo20 Jun 2017

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

HOLDEN has revealed that it expects Commodore sales to fall next year with the switch from local production to an imported model, however the company is not prepared to lose further sales volume across its full range simply as a result of closing its manufacturing operations in October.

Speaking at the national media launch of the Holden Astra sedan in Byron Bay last week, Holden executive director of sales Michael Filazzola told GoAuto that the company must shift focus off the Commodore nameplate next year, despite the introduction of the all-new German-built model.

“We want to have two or three products that are always constantly in the top 10, so that’s where the focus for Holden is,” Mr Filazzola said.

“We want to keep growing the business every year. I mean, I don’t want us to go backwards. I don’t have the same strategies as some of the other OEMs that say, well, we’ve closed manufacturing, let’s go back and we’ll build back up again.

“Our strategy has always been … what do we need to do to actually ensure that we stay within the top range? And so the new products is where we want to accelerate that.”

Mr Filazzola said he has also accepted that buyers of the Australian-built Commodore, which is currently and has long been Holden’s most popular vehicle, will not necessarily switch to the new Opel Insignia-based version due to arrive early next year.

“You’re talking to a different customer now than what we are traditionally speaking to,” he said.

“The new Commodore is not the … replacement of the old Commodore in the buyer who used to buy the old Commodore. You see the ones that are currently buying it today. I wouldn’t say that any of those people would automatically go and buy the current Commodore.”

 center imageLeft: Holden executive director of sales Michael Filazzola

Also conspicuous by its absence was any talk of the NG (New Generation) Commodore being one of the vehicles Mr Filazzola nominated as one of the consistent top-10 sellers in the Australian market.

Holden director of communications Sean Poppitt also told GoAuto last week: “Next year Commodore’s not going to have the same volume as we’ve seen (but) we’re ready for that.”“We’re trying to move away from being the Commodore Car Company and heavily relying on just one model because, if anything goes wrong, all of a sudden you’re in trouble.

“That’s why we’re growing Colorado, making Astra hatch and sedan, as well as getting the new SUVs. If we can have solid strength across four or five different car lines they don’t all have to be number-one sellers.

“If, you know, we’ve got three or four sellers in the top 10, then that’s a much better … more diversified portfolio and you rely on price less, you rely on swings in the market less, you rely on supply constraints less.”

Mr Filazzola said the small-car segment, which in 2018 will be filled by a complete range of the Astra hatchback and just-launched sedan as well as the forthcoming Sportwagon, and the pick-up segment in which the Colorado resides, would be the drivers of growth for Holden.

The third driver for 2018 is expected to be in the area of SUVs. From late this year, Holden will begin launching its US-focused SUV line-up version starting with the five-seat Chevrolet Equinox, followed by seven-seat version of the GMC Acadia to replace the Captiva from late next year.

“Captiva and Trailblazer will be our seven-seat options until we get Acadia,” Mr Filazzola confirmed.

“And then we’ll have Equinox, Acadia and Trailblazer, and Trax as our kind-of four-pronged SUV approach. So we’ll have good products that come from mature markets that will be able to compete with some of the Toyotas and Mazdas and so forth.

“And then we’ll have a whole new vehicle line-up as we move out of Commodore.

We’ve got the new one that’s coming … so that will fill that sedan market for people who are still looking for a nice sedan to drive.”

Mr Filazzola said the high-riding Commodore Tourer – a rival to the ultra-popular Subaru Outback and spiritual successor to the Holden Adventra that sold the early-to-mid 2000s – could be a potential dark horse.

“There are definitely lots of buyers with that,” he said. “Again, (it is) trying to … have a product to fit whatever customer type we have in the business, rather than relying on one car line to do the work for us.”

Mr Poppitt added: “Commodore Tourer is a really good opportunity for us next year … Although we might lose some market volume because Commodore isn’t what it once was, we see how well Subaru do (with Outback).

“I think there’s definite opportunity for incremental volume with the Commodore Tourer next year.”

Holden has, however, only committed to introducing a 3.6-litre petrol V6-engined version of the all-wheel-drive Commodore Tourer, despite being available overseas – in Opel Insignia Country Tourer specification – with a four-cylinder petrol and diesel that could tackle the tri-engine Outback range.

Mr Filazzola refused to reveal internal sales targets for any of its new vehicles, but while he explained that it was Holden’s intention to remain inside the top four brand-sales ranks next year, it would not blindly chase volume goals.

“I really want to build a profitable and sustainable business,” he said.

“I don’t want to chase volume and market share just to move us up (on the brand-sales charts) for one month or two months, it has to be sustainable so when we do move, we move and we stay there.”

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