General Motors has announced that it will shutter Opel's Australian division less than a year after launching the brand in the market. GM's decision to bring Opel, a German-based moniker that the automaker has been trying to figure out what to do with for years, to Australia in August of 2012 never really picked up steam – by June of 2013, the brand had only sold 1,530 cars.
Opel currently has 20 dealers, most of which are part of multi-franchise corporations, which should limit job losses. The future is less certain for 15 Opel staffers in Melbourne, who may or may not be offered positions at Holden, GM's original Australian brand.
The decision to leave the market shouldn't affect the handful of Opel customers. It's likely that the German brand will follow Saab's example, and pass off warranty responsibilities and service duties to another GM brand (Holden, in this case). Opel only ever offered three vehicles in Australia - the flagship Insignia (Buick Regal), the brand's best-selling Astra hatchback and the Corsa subcompact.
There is some hope for Aussies that appreciate the brand, though - Michelle Lang, marketing and PR head for Opel Australia hinted that the brand will negotiate with Holden over badge-engineered niche products for the Australian market. According to Australia's Drive, the leading candidate is the Opel Astra OPC, a raucous hot hatch known in the UK as the Vauxhall Astra VXR. Really, if that's all that comes out of this, we'd argue that Opel's closing is a net positive for Aussie motorists.