Holden has released its third German car in three months to try to win back buyers. But an exclusive survey shows Australians are rapidly falling out of love with the brand.
The Holden Insignia comes from Germany and has technology that can brake automatically to avoid hitting the car in front if the driver is distracted. It also has a rear-mounted radar to spot cars overtaking at a high speed, and headlights that automatically adjust their intensity in wet weather.
But there is a catch: the Insignia VXR costs more than $50,000, as much as the dearest Commodore models on sale today, as Holden is only importing the flagship model for now.
The all-new Insignia, due in 2018, will wear a Commodore badge and replace the locally-made sedan and wagon.
It means the Commodore will have come full circle: the original 1978 model was an Australianised version of the German family sedan made by Opel.
The shift to an imported Commodore means there will be no V8 sedan in Holden showrooms for the first time since 1968 and no passenger-car-based ute for the first time since 1990.
The Insignia arrives as independent research shows Australians are falling out of love with Holden at rapid rate.
A survey from Roy Morgan research of more than 5000 customers annually shows that the number of people intending to buy a Holden has halved in the past five years.
Our market share is falling, are we happy with that? No. Are we going to grow? Yes
Exclusive figures supplied to News Corp Australia show in 2010 about 14 per cent of new-car buyers had Holden at the top of their shopping list, but that figure has fallen to just 7.4 per cent so far this year.
Against the odds, following Holden's lowest sales tally in 21 years in 2014, the company still has highly ambitious plans to overtake Toyota by the end of the decade, even though the Japanese company now outsells Holden by almost two-to-one and Holden has not led the Australian new-car market for 13 years.
So far this year Holden has slipped to third place in the rankings behind Toyota and Mazda and is just 800 sales away from being overtaken by South Korean car maker Hyundai, according to figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
"Intention to buy goes with market share. Our market share is falling, are we happy with that? No. Are we going to grow? Yes," said Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley.
Holden says it will introduce 24 new models over the next five years
"We all wake up every day to take a step forward to be number one. We are not getting up to be number two," he said.
Holden says it will introduce 24 new models over the next five years but admits that most of those arrive after the factory at Elizabeth on the outskirts of Adelaide shuts down.
The former boss of Holden Gerry Dorizas boldly claimed just two months into the job in February 2014 that Holden could overtake car giant Toyota, but he left the company barely six months into the role.
The first Australian to run Holden in 25 years, Mark Bernhard, is due to start at Holden next month (July 2015).