Three fresh Holden products will be introduced in a seamless transition to replace the Commodore in 2017.
The three - an SUV, a sedan and a large dual-cab ute - are now part of a plan by Holden to regain the Number One sales position in Australia.
The move also reflects Holden’s new approach to the Australian market and a confirmation that the company’s long-standing large-car tenet is dead.
GM Holden executive director of sales, Peter Keley, said the company would no longer look at replacing the Commodore with one car but look at what its customers wanted.
“That could mean we would look at three vehicles filling the slot once occupied by the Commodore,” he said this week at the launch of Holden’s new mid-size sports sedan, the German-sourced Insignia VXR.
“Obviously it’s no secret that the market has turned away from large cars,” he said.
“As a manufacturer, we are focused on supplying customers with the best vehicle options. We see that segment that was once occupied by a large car now divided into three - a dual-cab ute, a seven-seat SUV and a variant that is available as either a sedan or wagon.
“Three replaces one.”
Mr Keley said the three options would give customers better vehicles to suit their needs.
The introduction of these three would also be seamless, he said, implying they would be on the market when Holden ceases local manufacturing of the Commodore in late 2017.
Holden is likely to source product from three areas - the US, Europe and Asia, specifically Korea and Thailand.
Mr Keley said it was already known that 30 percent of Holden’s new product line would come from Europe, indicating it would also be available with an Opel badge.
He promises that the Holden badge would be worn on more products in the future than ever before.
He said Holden was keen to maintain a V8 within its products, saying “a V8 sports car is coming”.
“There are niches to fill”, he said.
“A large SUV could be available from North America. There products available from Korea, including the new light-car Spark that I can’t speak more highly about.”
The new Spark will be launched in Australia as Holden’s smallest car in January. It will also be available in other markets under the Vauxhall and Chevrolet badges.
“General Motors (Holden’s parent) has allowed us to have access to any product we want in the world,” he said.
“Anything is now possible.”
Mr Keley said it was a fact that Holden wasn’t happy with its current market share.
“We want to be back to Number One,” he said. “Perhaps by 2020, that will be possible. We certainly are now taking the first steps to get back to that position.”
Mr Keley said it was too simplistic to judge a car company’s success on sales of one model.
“The market for new vehicles isn’t just expanding,” he said, “but it is diversifying.”
“The introduction of compact SUVs was initially thought to spell the end of the small sedan-car and hatchback markets.
Holden, normally reticent about new product, remained tight-lipped about the particulars of future vehicles.
But it shows that customers will be treated to a broader range of product and that most existing models will be soon replaced.
Mr Keley indicated that the Captiva 5 and Captiva 7 SUVs would be replaced in the short term. But he would not be drawn into likely passenger-car replacements for the Commodore.
TMR is aware that the Insignia VXR was launched in 2009 and under went a mid-life makeover last year. That indicates a new model for 2017, with an Australian debut potentially set for 2018.
The Insignia, built on a 2737mm wheelbase compared with Commodore’s 2915mm, is more a rival for Holden’s Malibu and doesn’t have the Aussie-built sedan’s liberal passenger and cargo space.
A direct Commodore replacement - either as a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive sedan and wagon - could be added to the Insignia’s platform or adapted from an existing Cadillac variant.
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