HOLDEN has revealed more than 30 percent of its future lineup will come from Opel's European range of cars – including a possible Commodore replacement.
Holden has already confirmed the Astra VXR and GTC hot hatch duo, the current-generation Insignia mid-sizer, and the Cascada convertible will arrive in Holden dealerships in early 2015. That's barely 18 months after those same cars, wearing Opel badges, were withdrawn from sale in Australia when Holden closed the Opel brand locally in August last year.
Wheels has also learned that the next-generation Insignia is in contention to replace the locally-built Holden Commodore when production ends here in 2017. Sedan, hatch and wagon versions of the Insignia are built by Opel in its Russelsheim factory in Germany, with petrol and diesel engines, and in front-drive and all-wheel drive configurations.
The next-generation Insignia is expected to be bigger than the current model, which is closer to a Subaru Liberty in size. But it's still likely to be smaller than the VF Commodore. Holden is not saying whether the Insignia will carry the Commodore badge in Australia, but this seems unlikely.
The next Insignia is currently being designed by Australian Niels Loeb in Germany, with input from renowned Holden designer Richard Ferlazzo.
Speaking exclusively to Wheels, Loeb revealed Opel's aspirations for the next-generation Insignia’s design and quality to rival that of established luxury brands BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Another Opel model likely to hit Australian roads is the new Corsa light hatchback revealed at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Holden could use this car either as a replacement for the Korean-sourced Barina, or to supplement it as a premium offering in its light hatchback range.
When asked by Wheels which was the more likely scenario, Holden managing director Gerry Dorizas declined to answer.
“We are absolutely committed to bringing the best possible products from GM’s global portfolio to Australian customers to support a strong and exciting future for Holden.”
Dorizas sees Opel as integral to his goal of returning Holden to the top of the Australian sales ladder by 2020. “Opel’s commitment to performance and quality aligns perfectly with Holden’s heritage and brand.”
All future Opel-sourced Holdens will be fine-tuned at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground to not only ensure they share common handling characteristics, but are tuned for Aussie conditions.
“We will make sure these cars are perfect for the Australian market,” said Karl-Thomas Neumann, Executive President of GM Europe. “I’m very excited about the role our great products will play in the resurgence of the Holden brand by being able to provide more than one-third of Holden’s future line-up.”