GM Holden has taken the unprecedented step of suspending imports of its second best selling car the Opel-made Astra, sighting issues with currency fluctuations and commodity price issues.
The move means that no Holden-badged Astras will be imported in April or May and the decision could become permanent, depending on a company review of the situation.
Holden’s senior spokesman, Scott Whiffin, told CarAdvice, “The Astra range is currently under strategic review because of unfavourable exchange rate movements and commodity price increases.”
“Until the review process is complete we are not taking orders for the vehicle and we have cancelled our April and May allocation,” Mr Whiffin said.
He added that “it’s a great car but it’s got to make business sense for us.”
CarAdvice believes that Holden has put a stop on imports of the Astra while it conducts price negotiations with Opel, the European subsidiary of General Motors that manufactures the vehicles.
Because of the suspension of orders for the next two months no Astras will arrive in Australia in June or July and beyond that the decision could spell the end for the nameplate in Australia.
Dealer stocks are believed to already be restricted and Holden has said that the import suspension will mean that some colours and model variants are not available.
Holden is already struggling with declining sales and the decision would seem to be at odds with its plans to move more strongly into the small car market.
At the same time Holden will launch the Korean-built Cruze in the next two months and has committed to spend $450 million moving into production late next year of further models based on the same Delta platform as the Cruze is built on.
In Europe GM sells the Cruze under the Chevrolet brand and at the Astra as an Opel, with a more up-market positioning.