January 19, 2011

Horse 1138 - Exit Holden, Stage Left - Enter Opel, Stage Right.


Chevrolet's new Sonic hatch and sedan models have at last made their US market debut this week, bringing its one step closer to its Australian launch as the new 2012 Holden Barina.
Known in the US market until recently as the Chevrolet Aveo, the new Barina is expected to go on sale in Australia, replacing the current fifth-generation Barina - at which time it will be nearly six years old.


Following reports last year that a local launch was on the table, General Motors has today announced that its premium European brand Opel will hit the Australian market in 2012.
Among the models confirmed for Australia will be the Insignia (winner of the European Car of the Year award in 2009) along with the new Astra (sold in earlier guises locally as the Holden Astra) and the recently upgraded Corsa (also sold in earlier incarnations as the Holden Barina).

I think that I spot a trend here.
General Motors are deliberately trying to rubbish the Holden brand in Australia, so that people will vote with their wallets and go out and buy Opels. Then once the Australian division falls over entirely, they'll cease production of the Commodore and thus not have to worry about Australia at all.

When you think about it, Holden basically shot themselves in the foot more than 2 years ago. When the Vectra was replaced with the 2009 European Car of the Year, the Opel Insignia, Holden instead of making the logical switch foisted upon Australians the Daewoo Tosca under the nameplate Holden Epica.
Do you know anyone who has or would ever knowingly choose to buy one of these?

Likewise they replaced the Opel Astra with the Daewoo Lacetti otherwise known as the Cruze, and their small car the Opel Corsa which was sold as the Barina was replaced with the Daewoo Gentra which retained the Barina name.
The Barina XC (Corsa) had a four-star ANCAP safety rating and the Barina TK (Gentra) when it was released had a two-star ANCAP safety rating. Even to this day a 2005 model Barina still has a higher resale value than a 2011 Barina according to what I've seen out in the car yards.

Over at Ford they've given us the Focus, the Fiesta and the Mondeo, all of which have either won or have been within 2 points of carrying off the coveted European Car of the Year title at some point, and its starting to show in the sales figures.

I'm wondering what's going to happen when Opel start giving us some of those lovely Opel Performace Centre (OPC) offerings. The Corsa OPC outperforms the Mini Cooper S Turbo in every department and at least in Germany, comes in at 25% cheaper.
Personally I think that it looks a whole heap cooler than the Barina, but not quite as cool as the Mini.

Basically I think that the long term strategy from GM Head Office is thus:
1. Bring in Opel to compete with Holden by selling higher quality cars.
2. When Holden isn't able to justify it's existance through flagging profit margins cull the brand.
3. End production of the Commodore because of Holden's demise.

The current VE had A$1bn spent on developing the platform (Zeta) which became the basis for the Chevrolet Camaro, but when the model cycle ends in 2015, I don't think it will be renewed.

Holden tried to sell the Monaro (as the Pontiac GTO) to the US, and the Commodore as the (as the Pontiac G8), when GM pulled the plug on Pontiac, Holden found that its biggest export market died. Maybe the ploy in Oz is to attack the trunk so that the tree falls over.

Either way, if Holden do continue to sell Crap Dressed up as Cheesecake under their badge, I'm going to buy Chocolate Bavarian built in Bavaria by Bavarians... or is that Black Forest Cake made in der Black Forest by der kleine elfs?