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Opel for Oz announcement soon

Coming soon: If the Opel GTC Paris concept makes it into production as the three-door Astra as expected, it could be among the models shipped to Australia.

Holden poised to announce the arrival of GM parent’s German Opel line for Australia

1 Oct 2010


GENERAL MOTORS’ German offshoot Opel expects to have its entire portfolio of vehicles on sale in Australia by as early as late 2011.

Speaking to GoAuto at this month’s Paris Motor Show, Opel CEO Nick Reilly revealed his company is poised to announce its intentions in Australia before the end of this year.

“I am optimistic that we will re-enter the Australian market,” Mr Reilly said.

“We are still putting some finer details to it because we want to do it right, because we want to be there for the long term, and we have got to finalise distribution and which products (will come) etcetera.

 center imageFrom top: Opel CEO Nick Reilly, Opel Ampera, Opel Insignia OPC Sports Tourer, Opel Corsa OPC, Opel Astra Sports Tourer.

“But the intention will be a complete product portfolio.

“I hope we will get a decision – certainly an announcement this year in detail. And then it will take a little bit of time to make sure we have got the homologation right – maybe by the end of next year.

“It will take about a year.”

As GoAuto reported exclusively almost a month ago, Holden is investigating offering Opel as an upmarket alternative to high-flying Volkswagen through its Australian distribution network.

However, while Mr Reilly would not elaborate on Holden’s involvement with Opel, it is expected that the dormant GM Premium Brands strategy within Holden that oversaw the distribution of the now-discontinued Hummer as well as the GM-era Saab marques is being revamped to accommodate Opel in Australia instead.

He also said that there was no conflict with the two brands selling closely related models side-by-side.

“(Compared to Holden) Opel is a completely different brand. I don’t know what the distribution channels are yet but they would be separate businesses – and the same business may not have the same franchises.

“Everybody knows that (with Opel and other GM brands like Holden and Chevrolet in Europe) we come from similar stables but that we are different, but that the technology is the same.

“And we’re not just releasing these cars for the first generation: we’re going to have several generation editions of the extended-range vehicles in different body styles, so Opel will go its way and Chevrolet (or Holden) will go its way. It’s more about which brand people prefer for a particular car.”

Every model is under consideration too, Mr Reilly revealed, led by the famous Astra nameplate that Holden was forced to drop when it swapped Opel’s five-year old AH Astra for the JG Cruze sedan built in South Korea by GM Daewoo in May 2009. Ironically the Cruze and all-new Opel Astra are closely related underneath, but differ in almost every key area.

Opel’s Corsa light car (sold here from 1994 to 2001 and 2001 to 2005 as the SB and XC Barina respectively), the highly praised Insignia midsizer, the promising new Meriva Mk2 mini people mover, a sub-B light car to take on the Fiat 500 in Opel’s portfolio, and even the Chevrolet Volt-based Opel Ampera electric range-extender model are all in the running as well. The latter is almost identical to the Holden version due in 2012.

“We will consider everything,” Mr Reilly said. We are doing some market studies … for sure, we are looking across the whole Opel range.”

Asked if Opel sees an opportunity to win over the satisfied owners of Opel-made Barina, Astra and Vectra models who do not like or want their GM Daewoo-made replacements, Mr Reilly’s reply was cautious.

“I don’t think we are going to take much product from the Holden stable. But clearly there are premium buyers who are interested in premium brands who are already buying other brands.”

He also suggested that Australian motorists were familiar with Opel since hundreds of thousands of vehicles made by the company were sold in Australia by Holden.

“Opel is well known in Australia. It’s a German brand. It’s got German heritage and German engineering, and people value that, and we’ve got some great looking cars.

“So we’re not there to compete with Holden, we’re there to compete with other imports.

“Obviously we still have to build the brand up (though), but there is recognition there. The market suggests there is, and a lot of people are keen to sell it.”

Mr Reilly admitted that Volkswagen was the pricing target for Opel in Australia.

“That’s what we are working on now,” he said.

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