The idea – one of several options Holden has discussed with dealers – would see the Cruze occupy the value-for-money segment of the small-car class, with the German Astra positioned slightly higher, and both badged as Holdens.
The Cruze would be priced at between $19,000 and $28,000, while the Astra range – including hatchback, wagon and coupe – would start at about $24,000 and stretch to $40,000 for the high-performance OPC coupe.
Next-generation versions of GM’s small cars, sharing the same D2XX architecture, are due in 2015 and will bring an all-new range of turbo-petrol and diesel engines.
It makes no economic sense for Holden to begin assembly of the new Cruze when it has only 18 months to live as a local car. Cruze, therefore, would revert to full importation from Korea before the Elizabeth, South Australia plant ceases production.
Holden knows it needs to dramatically strengthen its range pre-2017 and is looking at a range of options.
It seems increasingly likely that Opel will become the major source of small and medium cars. Last week, the German motor industry union indicated that Opel would be building “tens of thousands” of cars to be badged as Holdens.
The first Opel-badged Holden is expected to be the Cascada convertible late this year, with the Zafira MPV due in 2015.
Inside Holden there is now belated recognition that the Holden brand suffered because many of its Korean imports – think Epica – failed to deliver Holden’s core attributes, specifically driver appeal. Long-term, the move to Opel products is seen as potentially rectifying this issue.
Replacing Commodore is, of course, the major issue.
While it is no longer Australia’s best seller, the Commodore remains a significant player on the local scene and its demise will almost certainly see a hefty fall in market share. In 2013, Holden sold 27,766 Commodores, 1113 long-wheelbase Caprices and 5941 Utes.
Whatever succeeds the Commodore – we know it’s a front-drive sedan, and could be sourced from South Korea, China or the US – it will not include a passenger-derived ute or limousine variant.