Holden mines Opels

German GM cars to return with Holden badges

Holden to add three Opel models to its lineup: Astra, Insignia and Cascada

Opel models will return to Australia in 2015, but will be rebadged as Holdens.

The announcement, made this morning at Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne, reveals the first step in Holden's plan for imported models ahead of the end of local manufacturing in 2017.

The Opel brand disappeared from the Australian market last year after a brief foray as a standalone brand, but Opel vehicles have previously been sold here as Holdens.

Three Opel models will be imported next year - the Cascada convertible, the Astra small car and Insignia medium-size sedan.

Both the Astra and Insignia will boast turbocharged VXR variants.

"These products will be niche vehicles, small-volume models for Holden, but they mark the first step in an exciting new chapter for future Holden products," said GM president of international operations Stefan Jacoby.

"We are determined to offer Australian and New Zealand customers the best possible products that we can source from our global operations."

Jacoby would not confirm any other future products, including the widely speculated Camaro or the Zafira SUV, but did say that all future imports will be tuned for Aussie conditions.

"I can reveal that Holden's Lang Lang proving ground will stay open beyond 2017," he said.

"As we plan for the future, it is important that we retain our unique Australian DNA and ensure all future products speak with an Australian accent."

The move marks a backflip for Holden, which said it would close the facility in 2017, but it's one that will be welcomed by a small group of Holden employees.

"This will save more than a handful of jobs," Holden spokesperson George Svigos told Wheels.

Holden remained tight-lipped regarding prices of the new Opel products, but revealed that talks have already been held with HSV about the performance-focused VXR Astra and Insignia variants.

"Talks have taken place, but I don't think these new products will tread on HSV's toes," said Svigos. "HSV makes its own products and has its own plans."

Holden wouldn't say if it has plans for other Opel models should the Cascada, Astra and Insignia find a market, but insisted Opel's return is far from a PR stunt.

"This is not just a PR move," said Jacoby.

"Over the last couple of months we've developed our strategy for Australia. But, of course, we don't talk about future products."


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