As we reported last week, Opel, General Motors' German subsidiary, announced that it was pulling out of the Australian market after less than a year. The brand sold a meager 1,530 cars from August of 2012 to June of 2013, and simply never really appeared as a legit competitor to its primary target – Volkswagen.

Now, Car Advice is wondering what went so wrong. In a lengthy story, the Aussie publication interviews a number of dealers and Opel Australia's PR manager, Michelle Lang, about the shut down, what preceded it and why Opel's efforts were kind of broken from the start. What's remarkable is that it sheds light on the thought pattern behind the shutdown, which makes a fair amount of sense.

Click over to Car Advice for the full read, it's a good one.


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  • 30 Comments
      Sasha
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've been living in Australia for the past year plus. I am a car enthusiast who actively follows the industry and is aware of every car on the road around me. This is the first I've EVER heard of Opels in Australia. And, now that I know it, I have no idea how they would be different from Holdens. I've never seen one advertisement or mention of Opel in any medium at all. I have never even SEEN the Opel logo in Oz, not even once. #FAIL
      dukeisduke
      • 1 Year Ago
      Selling Opels in Australia? Sounds like another one of Akerson's bright ideas. The sooner GM can get out from under government control, and jettison Captain Queeg, the better.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good. Now it's time to close Opel all over the world, including Europe.Opel has been making lackluster cars for a long time, and is just a money loser in general.On the other hand, Chevrolet is the fastest growing brand in Europe and outsells Opel-just sell the current Chevy models in Europe, and people will buy them. If GM TRULY wants to go global, this is the way to do it-selling American products abroad rather than vice versa. The Cruze, Sonic/Aveo,Camaro, Corvette and Spark are already doing well in Europe, and I'm sure the Malibu, Impala, Suburban, Tahoe, Equinox, and Express van will do just as well if they are introduced properly and are given low price-tags. GM needs to work on making Chevrolet and Cadillac its global brands-this also means selling the ATS, next-gen CTS, XTS, and Escalade in Europe. If they are marketed well, Europeans will eventually buy them.
        Fernando
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Suburban in Europe? Escalade in Europe? You don't know what you are talking about
          benjamin_braddock
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Fernando
          Cadillac in Europe has failed too many times already, and well known here for being too large, too uneconomical and just too expensive. Thinking for one minute Cadillac could do well in Europe is just laughable. GM is looking like a laughing stock in Europe as it is. GM clearly doesn't understand the European market, nor the Australian one by the looks of things. Is it because GM has so much control over it's subsidiaries, to the point they are forcing them to fail? Opel/Vauxhall currently produce the size of cars that people want at the right price, that meet their needs and that are affordable to run. They just don't do it as well as other manufacturers. GM are rubbish at "premium" or indeed "luxury" in Europe, especially when they let Saab fail so badly. Saab had just as much potential as Jaguar, if not more so, and look at the great thinks Jaguar is doing these days. GM should be kicking themselves. Opel/Vauxhall needs some direction, a reason for the brand to be their and a serious point of difference. Europe doesn't need a new marque, just a manufacturer like Opel/Vauxhall to produce better cars, which at the moment they are clearly not doing. Going back to your Cadillac idea briefly, Opel and Vauxhall sell the Corsa and Astra here in Europe. Have you seen these compared to something like an Escalade? Clearly you have no idea about what sells in Europe and what doesn't, which is what I think the problem with GM is. GM doesn't understand the global difference in the car markets well enough. Opel/Vauxhall must improve here in Europe or the Korean brands will start to overtake.
        Robert Ryan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You must be on something. Shutting down the Korean built "Chevrolets" is probably a very good idea and replacing them with Opels.
        Quen47
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Here we go again. Have you ever been to Europe? Europeans would never buy the Express, Tahoe, or Suburban. Gas is roughly $10 a gallon and those vehicles are too wide to fit on the narrow roads of many city centers.
      SpikedLemon
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM's lack of planning and poor execution was the culprit. And downright shameful considering GM's recent history and that GM's Holden should know what it takes in that market.
      Steve
      • 1 Year Ago
      OK. Holden is Austrailian. Keep all GM world wide products Holden products. Not Chevy, not Buick. One exception. Cadillac. All other products MUST be Holden. GM wake up!!!
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      "It's the economy, stupid!" The Australian economy is not doing well - if you take away government activity then I'd say their economy is actually in a recession. This is due, in part, to a slowdown in Chinese economy. I have a friend that lives in Brisbane and things aren't good by means. Few years ago during the commodities boom to satisfy Chinese demand, a lot of people made money, but that's over. So I think the timing was off and I think that has more to do with economy rather than the pricing, okay perhaps product knowledge is also a factor.
      Gugue
      • 1 Year Ago
      What surprises me is that GM still don´t know why it didn´t worked... It seems to me that GM put a whole new team from Detroit who don´t know that GM outside US used to be represented by Opels...... no matter it takes over ten years, Corsa, Astra, Vectra, Omega is still very strong in the mind of its consumers, as well the Opel brand... it will be quite hard for GM to put Opel aside or above Vauxhall, non-american Chevrolet and Holden again....
      YaSo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Were these Opels sold in standalone dealerships or next to Holden dealers? How are the sales of Chevys and Vauxhalls doing in the UK? Are they sold in separate dealerships or next to each other?
        aatbloke1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @YaSo
        Vauxhall sold 18,165 cars in July 2013 (an increase of 1% year over year), representing 11.2% of the overall UK market share. Chevrolet sold 701 cars in July 2013 (a decrease of 17% year over year), representing 0.4% of the overall UK market share.
        AUS.DAVIDZ
        • 1 Year Ago
        @YaSo
        No, they where stand alone dealerships, if this worked they would have had a bash at bring in Cadillac, they had done that before and killed the deal in the 11th hour [blame GFC] The dealers of which where 20, spent millions on the dealership, GM will be footing the bill OPEL will return again to AUS just like last time with Holden badges on it, the irony Holden dealers will be doing the service/warranty on all these OPELS sold
      anon
      • 1 Year Ago
      It;s kinda like when Opel used to be in the US, they brought in models that were average when at the time they were making some pretty good models 'over there' and they got blander and blander so sales went DOWN, and even Vauxhall used to sell some in the US but the same thing happened even faster. But if yer selling essentially the same car as a Holden, it's a waste. Australia isn't large enough to offer several lines of GM makes and it's kinda the reason why there is no more Olds or Pontiac or Saturn in the US
      lesmando244
      • 1 Year Ago
      They didn't advertise enough. Holden Cruze ads are on the TV all the time.
      bootsnchaps60
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looking at the Opel website there are several cars I would consider over anything GM sells in the US. Same with Holden. GM US seems to make Corvettes and the duplicative trucks (why we taxpayers allowed two versions of the same truck still escapes me). Everything else is rebadged Opels, Holdens, and Daewoos (no more Suzukis?) . Maybe Opel had the same problem as Edsel-in this case not different enough from Holden.
      DanDaMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM should have brought the Opel brand to America years ago instead of re-badging them as Buicks..They would have been a serious contenders to VW in both design and price. Today, we're stuck choosing between overpriced Buicks and a watered-down VWs...
        SethG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DanDaMan
        Ahhh. I've been saying this for years. First they brought Opels over under the dying Saturn brand. Now they do it under the Buick brand which is doing better than Saturn but is not necessarily suited for cars with "German" personalities. German cars command a premium in the US. Of course there are the 3 luxury brands but there's also VW. GM should bring Opels over to the US as Opels. Then hire a marketing/ad team to introduce Americans to the "new" import from Germany. Instead of struggling to convince Americans that Buicks are different, they could have started with a clean slate and the "head start" associated with a German import.
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