Opel used the Frankfurt Motor Show this week to showcase some of the models that will make up the Australian range with a drive program in the Rheingau region around its engineering and design headquarters in Rüsselsheim.
Opel Australia Managing Director, Bill Mott, said Opel would compete in the light, small and medium segments which account for around 70 per cent of Australian passenger car sales.
“We’re able to draw from our European portfolio and offer the right mix of models that will appeal to Australian customers and hit the sweet spot for these segments,” Mr Mott said.
“Opel will offer a great range of body styles, powertrains and specification levels across Corsa, Astra and Insignia from launch which will be a solid foundation for the brand and position us well for long-term success.”
Mr Mott said the new Opel Australia team would be focused on establishing the operation and growing brand awareness over the next 12 months in the lead up to start of sales.
“Australia is one of the most competitive automotive markets in the world with a real appetite for European, and particularly, German marques,” he said.
“These brands have enjoyed strong growth which is significantly higher than the market average. Bringing Opel to Australia gives GM an opportunity to compete in this really important area of the market.
“Australians will quickly discover that Opel delivers on the promise of German engineering, but not in a conservative way.
“Opel vehicles are emotionally engaging, dynamic and innovative which we think gives the brand a point of difference and positions it as a serious European contender.”
Following the exciting world debut of the Zafira Tourer and Astra GTC production cars at the Frankfurt Show, Opel released details of the models confirmed for the first phase of the Australian launch.
In the light segment, Corsa will initially be offered with the popular naturally aspirated 1.4 litre petrol engine in both three and five-door models.
“Corsa is an iconic car in Europe. Over the last three years it’s sold on average more than 400,000 units a year and has been the best-selling three-door model in the light segment,” Mr Mott said.
“In Australia we’ve already had extremely positive feedback on Corsa in our customer research and we think it’ll become one of the most important models in our local line-up.”
From launch Astra will be available in five-door hatch and Sports Tourer models with a range of efficient and dynamic engines including 1.4 litre turbo petrol, 1.6 litre turbo petrol and 2.0 litre turbo diesel.
“Astra is already a much loved nameplate in Australia with previous models selling under sister brand Holden between 1996 and 2008. So people might know Astra, but they don’t know this Astra,” he said.
“Astra brings its own interpretation of Opel’s award-winning design language – sculptural artistry meets German precision. It has a strong coupe-like silhouette and a very sporty look which makes it much more exciting visually than traditional hatchbacks.
The sporty three-door Astra GTC coupe also had its world premiere in Frankfurt this week and would be considered for the next phase of the Opel roll-out in Australia.
“Astra GTC is a stunning car and highlights the ‘emotional design’ that underpins the Opel brand together with the dynamic driving performance that will come with the state-of-the art chassis and sporty suspension.
“GTC is a totally different concept compared to traditional three-door models. It will launch in Europe before the end of the year with a range of powertrain combinations and we’ll be looking at it closely for the Australian market.”
Mr Mott said Opel Performance Center (OPC) models were also being considered for the Australian market.
“OPC would be naturally at home in a market like Australia where drivers appreciate great performance and handling in large cars and hot hatches,” he said.
A European Car of the Year winner, Opel will bring the flagship Insignia to Australia in both Sedan and Sports Tourer body styles. Insignia will be offered in two turbocharged variants including the 2.0 litre direct injection petrol engine and 2.0 litre diesel, both matched to an automatic transmission.
“We’re really excited about the range we’ll be launching in Australia. Corsa, Astra and Insignia will compete with the best in the market and challenge some of the more traditional players with their emotional design and dynamic driving experience,” he said.
“Launching a new brand in Australia is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to take a blank canvas and tell the Opel story. We might be a newcomer to Australia but we have a 112-year history of innovation and automotive engineering in Germany.
“At Opel we call it Wir leben Autos – we live and breathe cars. That passion flows into everything we do and it speaks for itself the first time you get behind the wheel.”
Opel will launch in the Australian market in the second half of 2012 with full vehicle specification and pricing to be announced closer to launch.
Opel Australia will be a separate business entity co-located in GM Holden’s headquarters in Port Melbourne. The dealer network will be announced in the coming months and will focus initially on the key metropolitan markets.