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Holden looks to Opel for more cars

Future course: The fourth-generation Opel Corsa light hatch could be added to the Holden line-up as a more premium offering sitting above the Korean-sourced Barina.

GM’s European division to supply more than one-third Holden vehicles in future

Holden logo6 Oct 2014

GM HOLDEN used last week’s Paris motor show to confirm that more than one-third of its future models will be sourced from General Motors’ struggling Opel subsidiary in Europe.

Holden has already committed to reintroducing Opel cars to Australia under its own lion badge after GM’s failure to establish the Euro marque as a standalone brand here.

Mirroring Ford’s move in favouring European-designed models – and also, within a few years, potentially emulating the Blue Oval’s strategy in sourcing higher-volume models from nearby Thailand rather than Europe – Holden has committed to launching the Insignia VXR performance sedan, Astra GTC and VXR hatchbacks and the Cascada convertible in the first half of next year.

In a joint announcement with Opel last week, Holden committed to further new models that will see more than a third of the lion brand’s future models sourced from Europe, where GM is working to restore Opel to profitability by 2016.

GM Europe president Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a statement: “I’m very excited about the role our great products will play in the resurgence of the Holden brand, by being able to provide more than one-third of Holden’s future product line-up.

“Spearheaded by Opel’s DRIVE! 2022 strategy, we are making significant investments in new models, engines, transmissions and testing facilities to ensure we deliver truly world-class products to our export markets like Australia.”

GM Holden chairman and managing director Gerry Dorizas, who vowed earlier this year to steer Holden toward market leadership in Australia by the end of the decade, said next year’s first three Euro models would be “just the start of things to come”.

“We are absolutely committed to bringing the best possible products from GM’s global portfolio to Australian customers to support a strong and exciting future for Holden,” he said.

“Holden and Opel share very similar core brand values, including our commitment to performance, engineering excellence, vehicle dynamics and technology, which makes this such a strong and obvious partnership.

“Opel’s commitment to performance and quality aligns perfectly with Holden’s heritage and brand, and in turn these fantastic vehicles will benefit from being backed by one of Australia’s strongest brands and biggest dealer networks.”

GoAuto understands that one of these will be the next-generation Insignia mid-size range, which is undergoing development in Australia and will be used as a replacement for the Commodore, which reaches the end of the line in 2017.

Regular variants of the just-released fourth-generation Corsa are also obvious contenders for Australia, allowing Holden to position the light hatch as a premium alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, leaving Barina to tough it out at the budget end.

The same could be said for Astra and Cruze, the latter switching to an Asian source once Australian production shuts down, although there is potential for Holden to make the business case work for a full Astra range beyond 2017. A new-generation Astra is due for release during 2015.

With margins tight on mainstream compact cars, question marks hang over other models such as the forthcoming 2015 sub-Corsa Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva – based on the same platform as the next-generation Chevrolet/Holden Barina Spark and due to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show next March – and the current Opel Adam city car.

A volume-selling crossover positioned below the Opel Mokka (sold here as the Holden Trax) is also believed to be in the works, while other anticipated crossover models based on the Zafira people-mover and smaller Meriva have potential to be sold here.

Beyond passenger cars, new entrants in key light commercial vehicle segments are an obvious area of interest to Holden, with a new-generation Vivaro van nearing production and the current Movano van likewise offering incremental sales growth potential for the brand in Australia.

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