As Holden prepares for a future without European product, the lion brand is remembering its great friend in the good ol' US of A.
You could never find the Opel name in Holden's announcements for the new Commodore and Astra. Never even for the rebadged Insignia OPC, already known locally as an Opel product.
Of course, with an earlier attempt to launch the lightning-bolt brand falling on its face, it's no surprise Holden would want to avoid any further association in buyers' minds.
Likewise, a Holden model's Korean origins are rarely highlighted, smartly leaving buyers – in years past, at least – to assume it's another proudly Australian-made offering. (Australian-tuned, anyway.)
The crucial new Equinox SUV, for example, is not being proudly trumpeted here as another inspiring Chevrolet.
The story is a little different for its upcoming new large SUV, however, as Holden prepares to launch the American-born Acadia into its predominantly Korean and European line-up.
In a release handed down today, Holden namechecks the GMC brand (nearly a dozen times), best known in the US for its big trucks and big SUVs.
With the "premium" Acadia, Holden says we're seeing "a further sign Holden is committed to choosing the very best vehicles from General Motors’ (GM) world-class global product portfolio".
Warming buyers up, it also highlights the '2017 Brand Image Award for Most Refined Brand today' handed to GMC by America's Kelley Blue Book. In fact, GMC took that prize four years in a row, but Honda snagged it this year.
Reading further into today's media release, the message becomes clear: Peugeot Citroen's purchase of Opel means Holden will lose access to European product somewhere down the road, but it won't stand to be seen as a purveyor of second-rate Korean cars.
Talking up its own credentials and its "strong relationship" with the American headquarters of GM, Holden highlights the $16 million investment poured into the Lang Lang proving ground, integrated global leadership in design and engineering, and Holden alumni flying the flag in the US like Buick and GMC marketing boss Phil Brook. (GM Design chief Mike Simcoe missed out.)
“Nobody does SUVs better than General Motors and GMC. Acadia ticks all the boxes and more," Brook says. "It’s proved very popular here in the US and will be a perfect fit in Australia, too."
"It has a premium feel, outstanding quality, a strong road presence, plenty of cutting-edge technology and enough room for seven adults. It’s a fantastic all-rounder."
To its credit, Holden is undertaking 1.5 million kilometres of testing for its localised tune of the Acadia, using 14 vehicles to have staff go about their usual business and weekend duties.
Holden's 'First' GMC product..?
This is Holden's first car from GMC, it says. Weeeeell… have we forgotten the mighty Suburban, sold here in the late '90s and early 2000s?
That was seen as a rebadged Chevrolet, sure, but technically the car was built for a number of GM brands, including GMC. In that incarnation, it later became the GMC Yukon.
And, after all, the Acadia is also sold in the US as the Chevrolet Traverse, this time benefiting from a far more comprehensive styling change.
Then there's the GMC C/K trucks Holden imported even earlier than that, in the mid '90s, for use as ambulances. Those were never sold to the public, though, and the right-hand-drive configuration was a local conversion rather than a factory job. Still.
Could this be bye-bye Equinox, hello GMC Terrain?
The Equinox is a genuinely good rig. See our reviews, we like it. But, the market doesn't – not much, anyway. With 2685 sales year-to-date, the Equinox is perhaps not a failure (the Koleos sits on 1763), but it's well behind the CX-5 (13,847), RAV4 (11,770), X-Trail (10,524)... the list, sadly, goes on.
Holden's inability to drive interest in the Equinox is probably evidence that looks count for more than the brand had anticipated.
Perhaps, then, the related GMC Terrain could join the big Acadia down here as a replacement for the unloved Equinox.
It's not reviewing any better in the US than the Equinox is, but if it's at least as good to drive, its more cohesive and bold styling could be just the trick for Holden.
That's if GM can see a case for it, and free up some right-hand-drive production capacity, of course.
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