Holden New Zealand has acquired the astute services of current BMW corporate communications manager Ed Finn, who has been given a welcoming gift of sorts with the arrival later this year of the rebadged Astra hatchback, the 2016 European Car of the Year.
Finn joins Holden NZ on May 2 after six years in BMW’s Auckland headquarters. Previously he had similar communications roles with Ford NZ and Ford Australia.
Holden NZ managing director Kristian Aquilina says Finn will help Holden achieve its strategy for New Zealand. “Ed is joining Holden at an exciting time, as we look to launch 24 models by the end of 2020.”
One of those will be the award-winning Astra, one of many future vehicles from General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall outfit to be rebadged Holden.
Astra is the fifth GM vehicle to win the European COTY since its inception in 1964. The award was presented on the eve of the Geneva motor show.
Astra scored 309 points from the international panel of judges to beat the Volvo XC90 (294) and Mazda MX-5 (202). Astra has also won numerous other gongs, including the Scottish COTY.
“We can’t wait to get our hands on it,” said Holden NZ marketing executive Marnie Samphier. “It is indeed an amazing small car – class leading in many aspects.”
Will it be the hero car in Holden’s new Euro-centric line-up? “It’s a little early to be talking about campaign themes, but be assured we will be talking up this car for all it’s worth,” said Samphier.
In Europe, Astra is available with petrol and diesel engines, the new-generation IntelliLink infotainment system and OnStar, a comprehensive package which includes a high-speed 4G mobile network.
Meantime, Opel chief Karl Thomas Neumann has let slip at the Geneva show that that the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia will replace the Holden Commodore.
“The Australians will like this car a lot,” he said, referring to the new Insignia on the Opel stand.
Asked when it would be unveiled ahead of its showroom arrival, the chief executive said: “Very soon.” Asked how many would be exported and shipped to Australia, he said: “As many as possible.”
It is the first time a GM executive has confirmed that the next Commodore would come from Germany. Holden’s original 1978 Commodore was based on an Opel Rekord.