Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Opel to launch in Australia

The German brand is on a drive for global expansion and is aiming for conquest sales from Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen with a starting lineup of three cars.

The Astra will be Opel's born-again hero downunder and joined by the compact Corsa and award-winning mid-sized Insignia.  The plan is confirmed today by the heads of General Motors' two brands, Nick Reilly of Opel and Mike Devereux of GM Holden.

Holden is helping with the move but Opel is genuinely going alone, with no commitment to Holden dealers and no intention of integrating its small-car lineup with the cheaper Korean-made cars that dominate the Holden range.

It is aiming to become an upscale contender as Opel looks for incremental sales in a wide range of countries - from China to Israel
- to boost its production and spread its influence.

"This is not just an Australian play," says Reilly, a man who ironically brought Daewoo into the Holden family.  "It's important for Opel. It's an important brand statement."

He believes there are buyers in Australia who will pay extra to have an Astra over a Cruze and a Corsa over a Barina, with more opportunities in the future with specialist cars including the Zafira wagon and Meriva minivan.

"We're not trying to beat the mainstream brands. Our time is just at the right time," Reilly says.  Holden is already doing preliminary work for Opel on everything from the model lineup and pricing to the dealer set-up, but Devereux is unwilling to share any detail.

"We insisted it should be considered as a separate business," he says.  "Holden is our play in Australia and will be forever."

Opel is aiming for a short-term sales total below 10,000 cars, rising to around 15,000 within five years.