Opel plans to spoil buyers with choice
EVERYTHING from a baby city car to a prestige SUV could eventually join the Opel range in Australia.
The German maker opens its doors on September 1 with just three cars but admits local buyers will eventually be spoiled for choice.
Opel is spending $15 billion to develop 30 new and updated vehicles by 2014 and most are being considered for future sales in Australia.
They include the funky new Opel Adam, the Zafira mini people mover, the Mokka compact SUV and the zesty OPC version of the As- tra. Further into the future there will be Opels to fill the SUV slots that are crucial for Australian customers and companies that want to do well down under.
‘‘The challenge is clear,’’ says Bill Mott, the managing director of Opel Australia. ‘‘The market certainly is crowded, but customer choices are changing and we’re a good fit.’’
He knows Opel eventually wants to sell 15,000 cars a year in Australia and he is using Volkswagen as both a target and a role model.
But he refuses to give any early confirmations despite the obvious opportunities beyond the Corsa, Astra and Insignia that will provide the bedrock for Opel as it begins operations as a standalone brand and not just the European supplier to Holden.
Australia is part of a push to establish Opel outside Europe and reverse the European losses that have recently led to a management reshuffle by its owners, General Motors in Detroit.
‘‘Opel has already gone into South Africa, Israel and Chile. So Australia is not the first,’’ says Mott.
He admits there will be extra Opels - with the OPC and Adam looking likely - but will not give any solid commitment.
‘‘I don’t want to say I’ll take a model when I don’t have confirmation. I don’t want to look stupid or disappoint people,’’ he says.
He is upbeat about the OPC, which has just been previewed in Europe with the promise of a 206 kiloWatt turbo engine and major body tweaks that take it beyond the Astra GTC coupe that is included in the launch team for Australia.
‘‘I would like it. I want it. But I don’t have a piece of paper that says I’ll get it,’’ Mott says.
Opel is using design to help bait its hook for Australian sales and is getting help from its Australian- born head of exterior design, Nils Loeb.
‘‘Design is a key selling point and the main differentiator against a number of key competitors. What we stand for is sculptural artistry meets German innovation,’’ Loeb says.
He reveals the current range of Opel models takes their inspiration from the Flextreme concept car of 2010, from its minimalist nose to a different approach to side shaping.
‘‘This low-and-wide grille is something we’ll really be building up on. You’ll see it on the Adam later in the year. Adam is going to blow you away.’’