Opel's OPC Corsa is hot
British-born Mr Harding, who’s been involved with HSV for years in various roles, and is now Managing Director, told CarAdvice at a media briefing yesterday that the company was actively negotiating to import two Opel models to add to its line-up of performance vehicles.
The cars in question are the hot-hatch Opel Corsa VXR and the Opel Performance Centre (OPC) version of the Insignia, which uses a turbocharged V6 engine.
Even in standard trim the Insignia is a hot look
Mr Harding confirmed that the company was actively negotiating on pricing for both vehicles and he believed they would make an excellent fit with the current range of HSV vehicles.
He said the business case on both cars had been done, the projects had the blessing of parent GM-Holden, and the only issue now was getting the pricing right.
"We've shown an interest recently on the Corsa VXR, but we would be on our own to introduce that into Australia so the business case is pretty demanding.
However, as the second iteration of the VXR treatment in Europe it's more of a VXR than Astra," Mr Harding said.
The move would see HSV move away from strictly Holden based product, a trend it began in March 2006 when Mr Harding, then marketing director, set up the import of the Vauxhall Astra VXR as the HSV Astra VXR, along with the more recently added Nurburgring limited edition version of the Astra.
Revealing the interest in taking this a step further with the two Opel vehicles Mr Harding said; "We've got to the point where we like the product, we've understood how much it's going to cost us (HSV would have to bring the cars into Australia on its own) and we're now trying to get the right price,"
"The challenge obviously is we've got to support the car's completely, that means spares and servicing, whereas if you're riding the back of Holden, you only have to do the 'incrementals'.
“It's a bigger issue and decision to make; to actually support the whole product as opposed to the equivalent," Mr Harding said.
It also means that HSV has to work on different sales volumes to those that were the case with the Astra imports, which needed about 100-150 units to make the project viable.
Mr Harding said that in the case of the Corsa pricing was very critical as it needed to be around the $30,000 mark, which meant the company had to be able to sell 300 vehicles.
He said that with the OPC Insignia, spy pics of this testing at the Nurburgring have alreadyy been shown on CarAdvice, there was a little more leeway as he expected a price point around $55,000 and this meant fewer cars would need to be imported.
"That price point is a little more relaxed. It's a really good car, but it should sell for less than a Clubbie (Clubsport R8). Probably around the mid-$50s," he added.
Mr Harding said that HSV was working with its dealer network to see if there were customers at that price that would give the company the volume to import the vehicle.
He said that finally the success of the business case for either vehicle would not see them necessarily linked and one, or none could succeed.
Mr Harding reiterated that HSV continually reminded itself of its brand pillars - performance, driver enjoyment and 'unique’ HSV design – when evaluating which direction it should take with product.
He said any new vehicle had to tick all three boxes and if it didn’t then it wouldn’t wear the HSV badge.