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Slow seller: Holden admits Viva suffers from a lack of "name recognition".

Holden set to relaunch its great white small car hope after a slow start to sales

15 Jun 2006

GM HOLDEN is set to relaunch its Viva range in the next few weeks after conceding that the South Korean-sourced small-car range had not sold as well as it had envisaged and was suffering from a lack of "name recognition".

At the Viva launch in October last year, Holden forecast it would sell 17,000 units in 2006, or just over 1416 units a month. However, the latest VFACTS industry figures show that Holden’s monthly rate with the small car (to May 31) has been well down – 955 units a month, for 4776 units year-to-date.

Combined with the 8209 AH Astra sales to the end of May, Holden’s small-car YTD total is 12,985. This compares to 2005 YTD figures of 14,155 for the European-sourced TS Astra Classic/AH Astra.

Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney said he was disappointed at the Viva’s less-than-stellar sales performance.

"I was hoping for it to be a little better," he told GoAuto. "The issue we have with Viva is as much about name recognition as anything else.

"The old Astra Classic had a lot of name recognition. There was a lot of brand equity in Astra, so we knew when we made the name change to Viva that we were going to have a challenge getting name recognition."Mr Mooney hinted that Holden was about to embark on a massive advertising campaign to lift the Viva’s profile.

"We had an advertising campaign out early, and we haven’t been out on air for a while, so we’re going to keep working getting the name out there," he said.

"A lot of people out there don’t know what a Viva is ... so we have got a little bit of marketing to do."Holden will make sure the Viva is not forgotten by the record number of light- and small-car buyers that the model straddles in price, if not in size.

"Expect for the rest of the year (for us to) hit the airwaves ... to have Viva focused in the advertising," Mr Mooney said. "We have people coming in looking at the Astra...

"(Yet) the Viva is at a better price point, and I think it’s better value.

"It doesn’t have the content or the reputation of the Astra, but we've got to get people in there looking for it." Mr Mooney revealed that this was the "number one challenge" facing Holden in the four-cylinder market context.

"People still look at us as a full-sized car company ... as the ‘Commodore Car Company’.

"We’ve still got to work on somebody who is thinking of buying a small or light car to buy a Holden, because that isn’t historically where our strength has been."The Holden boss said he was not worried that consumers would forget about the Viva or Barina as the new VE Commodore publicity juggernaut got underway around the time of its expected launch late in August.

"I think any kind of publicity is good," he said.

"We will be doing a lot of advertising, and there will be a lot of publicity certainly around the new Commodore ... but that will be good for all our car lines.

"In fact I expect to see a lift in all our car lines, quite honestly."

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