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Opel outlines Aussie model plan

Opel is expected to enter the Australian market in a co-share arrangement with Holden in early 2012.

The German arm of General Motors today says it plans to expand its model range with a crossover SUV that will be launched in about four years.

It will be joined by a small electric hatchback based on the Barina-sized Corsa and expect to play a major role in affirming Opel's position on the Australian market.

Opel is expected to enter the Australian market in a co-share arrangement with Holden in early 2012.

Models are expected to include the Camry-size Insignia, Astra - possibly including the GTC - and Corsa. The Corsa range could include the 151kW/280Nm OPC hot hatch.

Opel vice-president for business and product planning, Frank Weber, says all models in the range are under consideration for Australia. Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke is on record as saying he wants to expand Opel's range and global territory outside of its traditional European base.

"I believe that we can achieve a level of about 150,000 vehicles that we can sell annually outside Europe in three years time," he says, adding that parent GM is comfortable with that expansion as long as it is profitable and complements GM's other brands - in this case, Holden. Opel begins deliveries to Argentina and Chile late this year and to China and Australia next year.

The move to a small electric car - to complement Opel's existing Volt-based Ampera electric sedan - coincides with the German Government announcing an additional $1.4 billion for research and development aid for electric vehicles.

That doubles the government's investment in the technology. The funds include tax rebates, dedicated parking spots and measures aimed at promoting government use of electric cars. Germany aims to have one million electric vehicles on its streets by 2020.