In the 1990s and early 2000s, Holden imported the Barina, Astra and Vectra from Europe (the latter was also assembled locally in 1998 and 1999), before switching to South Korean-made equivalents of those cars - badged Barina, Cruze and Epica/Malibu.
As CarAdvice has previously reported, a switch back to bringing cars from the Continent to be sold as Holdens is one possibility - and that approach appears to be gaining momentum at General Motors HQ.
GM president and chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board Dan Ammann told CarAdvice that if customers want European models rather than the current crop of South Korean-sourced cars, that could be exactly what they’ll get.
“It’s going to come back to our assessment of the customer base and how do we best meet their needs, and it’s really going to be as simple as that,” Ammann said of a revitalised product line-up with more Opel-sourced cars.
“We’ve got a big global toolbox to use, if you like, and we’ve got to make sure we bring exactly the right product,” he said.
The key question is that of the small car range. The brand currently builds the Cruze hatch and sedan, but imports the wagon version from South Korea.
However, CarAdvice has been told by company insiders that the next-generation Opel Astra could be the hatchback of choice for the Aussie market, and it may show up alongside a small sedan with Cruze badging.
Splitting models in the same segment may seem a strange strategy but Hyundai has proved that it can work quite successfully with its i30 hatch and wagon and Elantra sedan. Likewise, Renault has the Megane hatch and Fluence sedan, though neither of those cars is selling in huge numbers at this point.
There’s no word on launch timing for either the new-generation Opel Astra or Chevrolet Cruze, but both will reportedly be built on the same global platform, and it is believed both cars could be revealed in 2014 for a 2015 launch.
As CarAdvice exclusively reported just weeks ago, that could put workers in the company’s Australian plant out of the job, as the plant has not been tooled for the new generation Cruze (above). Holden offered no substantive comment when asked if that could be the case.
However, Ammann said no matter what cars are sold, General Motors is eager to reinforce its dedication to the Australian and New Zealand markets and the Holden brand despite the 2013 announcement that it will stop building cars in Victoria.
“The Australian market and New Zealand markets have evolved a lot in the last 20 years,” he said.
“All I’d say at this time is that clearly with the announcement that we made at the end of last year, we’re changing the manufacturing footprint of the business, but we remain totally committed, obviously, to Australia and to New Zealand, to Holden. And we’re going to make sure that we bring the product portfolio to those markets that the customers really want.
“Obviously the market has changed, what the customer is looking for has changed, the rules of engagement have changed with the tariff changes and currency and everything else. So, the market’s evolved a lot, we’re going to go with them,” Ammann said.