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Holden Astra and Commodore here to stay, boss claims

Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

22 Feb 2019 • 3 min read

The Holden Commodore and Holden Astra model lines are here to stay, according to General Motors Holden chairman and managing director, Dave Buttner.

Mr Buttner addressed rumours of a potential sale of the Holden passenger car range to distributor Inchcape at an ‘SUV day’ event this week, where he made it clear that the two models still have a job to do in the Australian market.

“People are getting a bit ahead of themselves,” he said. “There’s still a substantial segment in passenger vehicles, and we have products to meet those segments head on.”

The comment undoubtedly came to rebut speculation Inchcape may move to re-establish the Opel brand in Australia, as that marque is now owned by PSA Peugeot Citroen – two other brands the company currently imports and sells here. If that were to be the case, Opel could go it alone with Astra and Commodore, which would likely be rebranded to its original nameplate, Insignia.

“I’m not privy to the contractual agreements between PSA and GM – all I know is we’re looking into future product, and what’s in our plan of record, and we have sighting into the future,” said Mr Buttner, before going on to suggest the two models have history with their current nameplates – and he even hinted at more products to join the Astra range (which encompasses sedan, hatch and wagon) and the Commodore line-up (hatch, wagon and crossover).

“People are aware of the brand of Commodore and the brand of Astra, and we need to build other nameplates in that portfolio.

“Passenger cars still represent 35 per cent of the market. They’re probably our two best nameplates, actually, in terms of Commodore and Astra. So, while there’s an opportunity to play in that marketplace, we’ll play in that marketplace. We have to play in the segments of the market where we can get good volume and share.”

Taking that on board, the reading is depressing for Holden: the Astra sold just 9876 units in 2018, while the Commodore accounted for 9040 sales. With a combined 18,916 vehicles, those two vehicles stood for just 4.9 per cent of that 35 per cent of the market. If you factor in the apparently axed Barina (3767), Astra Sport (2), Cascada (3), Caprice (38), Spark (619) and Ute (342), the brand still only managed 23,687 of a total passenger car market measuring 378,413 (or 6.3 per cent).

“As our portfolio continues to evolve over time, we will take decisions on future product based on customer preferences, vehicle dynamics and performance, and the contribution the products will make to the financial performance of all stakeholders of our brand.

“The product we get out of Opel is still under the GM umbrella anyway, in terms of who we source through and what have you. It might be different ownership, but the product is still there,” said Mr Buttner.

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