HOLDEN’S PLAN to import high-performance VXR models from Europe is guaranteed to steal sales from HSV, according to Opel’s performance manager Wilfried Diehl.
Holden will reintroduce the Astra and Insignia VXR from early 2015 – cars previously sold here as Opels during the German company’s failed foray into Australia last year – with Diehl delivering a grave warning to HSV.
“We will be cutting their [HSV’s] grass, yes,” said Diehl. “If a new model comes into the market somebody is going to lose market share. And because HSV has the same attitude towards its cars as we do to our performance models, they will compete.
“Currently only HSV is in the market, so when we come in to the market then HSV will lose. This is for sure.”
Currently HSV sells around 3000 units a year, but Diehl says that unless the Australian performance market increases this will drop dramatically, particularly when Holden ceases local manufacturing in 2017.
“I know Australians will choose our cars so I hope we will create new customers and HSV isn’t affected, but it really is the same type of product,” said Diehl. “HSV does the same job that we do, so we will compete.
“If someone is looking to buy a performance car and likes a new car on the market he will buy it. Then HSV will lose volume, it’s simple. Somebody is going to lose when VXR comes to your market.”
While the Astra and Insignia are unlikely to immediately impact HSV sales given their different body styles, they do limit HSV’s future options.
It’s widely understood Holden will replace the Commodore with the next-gen front-wheel drive Insignia and all-wheel drive Insignia VXR post-2017, while Diehl revealed plans are already underway to introduce more VXR products - including the new Opel Corsa which was just revealed at the Paris motor show.
“You will get the planned Corsa VXR for sure,” he said. “We are currently working on this car and the development of its engine was actually done in Australia. The Australian powertrain team developed the entire engine which is 1.6-litres with 200-plus horsepower [147kW]. We are working hand in hand with them, so I think it will sell well in Australia.”
Holden refused to comment on whether an influx of VXR products would cannibalise HSV’s business.
“HSV can speak for itself about where its product is pitched,” said Holden corporate affairs director George Svigos. “But we’re looking forward to bringing the VXR product in.”
Despite the uncertainty, HSV insists its future remains bright. The company, which currently employs around 100 people at its engineering centre in Clayton, Victoria, produces six models – all based on the VF Commodore.