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Opel to return to Holden showrooms

Reverting to more Opel product is viewed as a way to add some polish to Holden’s image as it winds down local production.

Opel cars could be back in Holden showrooms by the end of this year, starting with the sleek and sexy Cascada convertible priced about $50,000.

In a confidential briefing Holden dealers have been told to make room in their showrooms for the Cascada, which was due to be sold in Australia under the Opel badge before General Motors killed the brand’s aspirations last year, less than 12 months after appointing dealers across Australia.

Holden dealers have also been told to expect more models from the Opel range in future, but declined to nominate which ones.

News Corp Australia understands, however, that the Astra is a strong chance at making a return and could be sold alongside the Cruze at a modest premium as Holden winds down local production of its small car.

The newly-appointed president of General Motors, Dan Ammann, told reporters at this week’s Geneva motor show: “We’re changing the manufacturing footprint of the business (in Australia) but we remain totally committed to Australia and to Holden.

“We’re going to make sure we bring the product portfolio to the market that the customers really want. The Australian market has evolved a lot … it’s going to come back to how do we best meet their needs.”

Mr Ammann, originally from New Zealand but now based in Detroit, has responsibility for managing General Motors’ regional operations around the world, the global Chevrolet and Cadillac brand organizations, and global product planning.

Holden sold rebadged Opel vehicles with success in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until unfavourable exchange rates pushed up prices, forcing Holden to switch to sourcing cars from South Korea.

Today, most cars in Holden showrooms are made in South Korea or Thailand. But reverting to more Opel product is viewed as a way to add some polish to Holden’s image as it winds down local production no later than 2017.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling