In August, 2012, European badge Opel returned to Australia and a company spokesman across the Tasman said it would see how sales went before considering a move into New Zealand.
Exactly 12 months and one day later, Opel Australia closed down. Sales had been poor – roughly 1600 vehicles in a year. Now Opel is back, this time in both Australia and New Zealand from early next year and wearing the Holden badge. Opel of course is the European arm of General Motors, Holden’s US parent.
The return Down Under of Opel products with a Holden badge wasn’t unexpected, especially after Holden recently announced it would stop building cars in Australiafrom 2017.
But GM executives deny they deliberately shut down the Opel operation across the ditch to make way for Holden-badged models, although they admitted the European-sourced cars would sell better with a Holden handle.
GM president of international operations Stefan Jacoby said it was the right approach to count on Holden.
family. I think it was a good decision to pull back Opel and have a restart with Holden with global-sourced product base in the future, and we will also bring products from Europe.”
Three Holden-badged ‘sports’ models will kick things off in New Zealand in 2015: the Cascada convertible (top) Astra hatchback (which was here for some years as a Holden), and all-wheel-drive mid-size Insignia sedan.
“Holden is one of the strongest brands in Australasia and the introduction of the Astra, Cascada and Insignia to the portfolio in 2015 will be a great addition,” Jacobysaid.
“We are determined to offer New Zealand and Australian customers the best possible products that we can source from our global operations, as we build a strong future for Holden.
“We are focussed on the long-term fundamentals, such as ensuring Holden retains its proud Australasian identity and provides customers with the best possible cars.”
Jacoby would not say what other Opel-sourced products would be available once Holden stops manufacturing in 2017, but it has been suggested that more mainstream Astra and Insignia models will take the place of the Australian-made Cruze and Commodore.
The 2015 line-up for NZ:
• Holden Astra GTC: front drive, three-door, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, six-speed manual or auto gearboxes.
• Holden Cascara: front drive, two-door convertible, 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, choice of six-speed gearboxes
• Holden Astra VXR: front drive, three-door, 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, six-speed manual gearbox
• Holden Insignia VXR: all-wheel drive, four-door sedan, 2.8-litre V6 turbo petrol engine, six-speed auto gearbox “Holden is the Australian brand within the GM