GM's Opel Desperation Extends To Australia
General Motors is so desperate to find new customers for Opel cars that they’re introducing the brand to Australia, where it’s set to butt heads against Holden – Australia’s long-time favorite car brand.
To be fair, the Commodore is no longer the king of Australian car sales. Imported cars like the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and even the HiLux have knocked the big rear-drive sedan off of its perch, but according to Car and Driver, 1 in 8 cars sold Down Under are Holdens.
In recent years, Holden’s smaller passenger cars have come from Korea derived models rather than European products; Holden once sold the Astra and Corsa, but today it’s the Cruze and Barina (aka Spark on our shores). And that is what GM is counting on to bring customers into Opel showrooms.
Opel’s Bill Mott told Car and Driver
“We think—and when I say ‘we’ I speak for both myself and Holden management—that our [customers are] looking for a European and, in particular, German brand experience. And [Holden], by definition, can’t cover [those customers]. Either we walk away from that market as General Motors, or we attack it. We’re bringing Opel to attack it, and we’re doing it in concert with Holden.”
Mott cites the explosive sales of German brands in Australia – which have grown 30 percent over the last decade – as evidence of the necessity of Opel. But aside from the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, German cars don’t rank too highly in Australian sales charts. Consumers already know the Astra as a Holden from previous years, and it’s hard to imagine that its sales as an Opel will convince them that it’s really a premium product on par with German competitors. More importantly, Opel doesn’t have anywhere near the cachet that other German nameplates do. Who does GM think they’re fooling anyways?
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This is akin to Holden setting up shop in the US and selling Commodores, Caprices and Utes on their own. Can you see the current Opel ad in Australia and massaging it to America? "One of us went to America and left , we missed it so much it's come back and brought the rest of the family" Would you buy a Holden Commodore SS, sold by a Holden dealer, based on the memories of the Pontiac G8? For a premium.
How big is the Australian (and New Zealand) car market? If you're looking to move Opel volume outside of Europe, wouldn't it make sense to go where this is even possible? I'm not up on the auto markets in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, but wouldn't a play to sell the 'larger' (by local standards) Opels there as luxury cars and the smaller Opels (such as Adam) to the masses. Create inroads as a German brand in reach of the average buyer and not only by the elite in those countries.