Product 'onslaught' part of Holden's war chest

Opel Karl

HOLDEN has promised 24 new vehicles and 36 new powertrains over the next five years as it goes on the front foot with its newly confirmed MD and chairman, Mark Bernhard.

The product onslaught, confirmed by visiting vice-president of international operations, Stefan Jacoby, includes a new entry-level Barina Spark city car, as well as an all-new Captiva to strengthen its SUV offering.

Holden also re-affirmed a sports offering in the Holden line-up, as reported by Wheels at the 2015 Detroit show last month, as well as the addition of European-sourced Opel models by mid-this year.

Those models include the Astra and Insignia VXR models, potentially robbing go-fast division HSV of sales, as well as the Astra-based Cascada convertible. It’s not yet clear whether the new Barina Spark will be sourced from Korea, as the current model is, or whether Holden will take up the Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva that’s set for release in Europe in the first quarter of 2015.

He said Holden would still hold on to its target of overtaking Toyota as Australia's largest full-line importer in Australia by 2020.

However, Jacoby reaffirmed the lofty target that would require a significant boost over the circa 10 percent market share to catch Toyota, which is hovering around 17 or 18 percent share.

“We still have the aspiration to be number one,” said Jacoby. “It’s the iconic Australian brand … We have success and we want to continue with this success.”

But Jacoby said the brand was not only targeting sales leadership but also leadership in quality, service and customer satisfaction, among other measurements.

“When we say we want to be number one, we want to be number one not only in terms of sales … we are moving on all the elements of this business … we are improving customer satisfaction,” said Jacoby.

Despite a 5.3 percent drop in sales Jacoby said the January sales figures were ahead of expectations.

“The signals are going towards north.”

Jacoby also reiterated that Holden’s Lang Lang, Victoria, proving ground is not for sale and will continued to be used for General Motors’ global vehicle development, in addition to the design operations of Holden contiunuing post-2017, when local manufacturing ceases.

Ford, who will close its Australian manufacturing operations in 2016, has also previously confirmed that its local design studio will continue once production of its local models has ended.

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