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Next Holden Astra, Commodore sourcing undecided

Holden on: The ZB Commodore launches in February next year and is based on the Opel Insignia, but it is unclear what the future holds for the model beyond its next generation.

Holden to decide between PSA or GM sourcing for next-gen models such as Astra

Holden logo4 Dec 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

HOLDEN is yet to decide whether it will continue to source models from the Opel that is now owned by French giant PSA Group, or if it will import its future small and mid-size passenger car offerings from another General Motors brand.

GM offloaded its Opel and Vauxhall brands to the Peugeot and Citroen parent company earlier this year, casting doubt over the future of two of Holden’s key models – the freshly launched Astra hatch and the upcoming new-generation Commodore, both of which are based on Opel products and built by the German car-maker.

The Astra is in the second year of its lifecycle and the Insignia – the new Commodore’s donor car – has only just gone on sale in Europe, but PSA Group recently confirmed that all Opel models would switch to PSA platforms by 2024, meaning the Commodore would have a shortened model life.

GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard told journalists that the car-maker was still considering its options beyond the two model’s lifecycles and that both Opel and the wider GM portfolio provided opportunities.

“At this stage, both options are still on the table,” he said at the media launch of the Equinox SUV in Queensland last week. “We are not at that point in the product lifecycle where we need to make those decisions. Frankly we are pretty excited by the opportunities we will have… “The two products we are getting from PSA Opel at the moment – the Astra and the Commodore – both come in Buick versions. And we know GM is not going to walk away from Buick so we get to piggyback on Buick. Or we can continue to work with PSA Opel, either of those things are available to us at this stage.”

Mr Bernhard said Holden would finalise its plans relating to these products in the next 12 to 18 months. While the Astra hatch and wagon are sourced from Europe, the sedan is built in Korea.

 center imageLeft: GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard

It is unclear what plans GM has for its Buick brand in terms of sourcing, given that four of its models – Verano, Regal, Cascada and Encore – are based on Opel products.

When asked if PSA’s takeover of Opel has had an impact on Holden’s plan to launch 24 new models by 2020, Mr Bernhard said the buyout has had “no effect on our product portfolio”.

He also confirmed that there was no risk of Opel re-entering the Australian market anytime soon, as it was part of the PSA takeover agreement that they were “not allowed to look at the Australian market”.

Opel famously entered the Australian market for just 12 months in 2012 before pulling the pin, blaming slow sales and the super competitive nature of the new-vehicle market.

Mr Bernhard denied that he was frustrated by the number of GM products that are not offered in right-hand-drive configuration, and said it was up to Holden to push the case if it wanted to offer a GM model in its Australian line-up.

“That responsibility is on us. If we want those cars it is important for us to get into the programs early and demonstrate the business case for those cars.

We have been able to do that successfully with the product you are seeing now.

This goes back 10-15 years ago when we struggled to get those products. That is not the case now.”

Holden has just launched the US-developed, Mexican-built Equinox mid-size SUV in Australia and will add the US-built Acadia seven-seat large SUV to its roster later next year.

The Acadia will compete against other US-built offerings including the Toyota Kluger and Nissan Pathfinder and Australia and New Zealand will be the only right-hand-drive markets to offer the big SUV.

Other US GM models Holden is believed to be interested in include the next-generation Camaro that is due early in the next decade and the all-electric Chevrolet Volt, two examples of which are currently in Australia for evaluation.

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