Opel plans to spoil buy­ers with choice

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

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.’’

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