Volkswagen says it’s not frightened of the new competition it will face when General Motors’ European Opel brand launches in Australia later this year.
Opel will release its range of vehicles in the third quarter of 2012, when it will pitch itself as a more premium mainstream offering to incumbent sister company Holden and therefore a more direct rival to VW.
The German GM brand, which has been struggling in Europe, has already boldly declared that it is targeting 15,000 annual sales in Australia by 2015.
VW Australia boss Anke Koeckler admits Opel’s arrival will further squeeze a highly competitive market but says the company will not be diverted from its plan to continue impressive sales growth.
“To be honest I think they might have good reasons [for their confidence] that if they analyse the potential for the brand Opel to go into the market,” says Koeckler.
“I think we’ll not see big, big growth in the market so they will be another competitor in the battleground. The [Opel] products are good products so let’s see how they can make it.
“[But] honestly I’m not scared right now that they are coming over. We have our own path to go, our own journey.
“And I don’t want to get distracted… we are following this route step by step and keeping ourselves on track.”
Hoakler acknowledges the Astra nameplate (Astra GTC pictured main), which will return with Opel to become a natural rival for the VW Golf, is widely recognised from its years with Holden.
Hoakler says she will be interested to see how the Opel range is distributed in Australia and how the pricing will be positioned in comparison to equivalent Holden vehicles.
The Opel Astra will spearhead the GM brand’s volume aspirations in Australia. It will be joined by the Corsa city car, a rival for the VW Polo, and Insignia medium car (above) that will compete with the VW Passat.
Volkswagen is enjoying huge growth in Australia, having more than doubled sales between 2006 and 2011 – from 21,571 to 44,740.his route step by step and keeping ourselves on track.