Following reports last year that a local launch was on the table, General Motors has today announced that its premium European brand Opel will hit the Australian market in 2012.
Among the models confirmed for Australia will be the Insignia (winner of the European Car of the Year award in 2009) along with the new Astra (sold in earlier guises locally as the Holden Astra) and the recently upgraded Corsa (also sold in earlier incarnations as the Holden Barina).
It is unclear if other models, such as the small Opel Meriva people-mover, will make their way to Australian showrooms.
Speaking at the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today, Opel CEO Nick Reilly and Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux announced the Opel export program.
“Opel will be sold as a stand-alone brand in Australia for the first time in 2012, but Australian drivers have a strong affinity with Opel vehicles like Astra which were previously sold under the Holden brand,” Mr Devereux said.
“Opel presents a new opportunity for GM in Australia with a growing demand for German design and technology at affordable prices.
“We look forward to supporting our sister brand establish itself as a strong competitor in the growing premium European segment.”
Mr Devereux acknowledged that models such as the Astra and Opel-derived Barina enjoyed a long and successful history in Australia before being replaced by the Holden Viva and the Daewoo-sourced Barina.
Exactly how the Opel brand will be managed in Australia has not been confirmed, although it is likely that a branch of Holden's management - similar to the GM Premium Brands arm that once distributed Saab and Hummer in Australia - will be responsible.
Echoing comments made by spokesperson Andrea Kroemer last year, Opel CEO Nick Reilly pointed to Australia as a key market in the brand's international strategy, announced alongside Israel and Chile as the brand's upcoming export markets.
“Australia is one of the most important new opportunities for Opel as we continue to reposition Opel as a global European brand in markets like the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and South America,” he said.
“The interest from Australian media and public already has been extremely encouraging.
“Our German engineering heritage, award-winning design and sporty and efficient performance will help position Opel as a premium alternative in new international markets like Australia.”