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.


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  • 45 Comments
      anon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Huh I thought Holden sold the same Opel models as Holdens, didn't make any sense. That's GM for ya.
      jonwil2002
      • 2 Years Ago
      I suspect part of the problem for Opel is that Aussies still remember the last Holden Astra. Its a great car, dont get me wrong, I got family who own one but its not exactly "premium" or "luxury" in the way Opel has tried to position itself. Convicing people to pay the prices Opel were asking for the cars Opel were trying to sell just wasn't going to work.
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jonwil2002
        Agreed -- it seems like there is a pretty limited group of people who view Opel cars as 'premium' and it's not surprising that they would have a hard time commanding premium prices for those fairly average cars in other markets.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jonwil2002
        I suspect the problem is that the Astra was replaced by a GM-DAT product, as was the Barina/Corsa, and then the former cars are brought in at higher prices under their original banners - all the space of half a decade. The buying public shouldn't be hoodwinked.
      Phil
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why is there a Peugeot 207 CC in the background and not an Opel? Weak.
        JayH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Phil
        because it's gorgeous *_*
        Mbukukanyau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Phil
        And Peugeot is getting married to GM
        vrmchris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Phil
        hello to all, phil, that is the new opel cascada. .which is arguably more desirable than the peugeot 207 cc. regards, vrmchris
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      What were they thinking?! I thought GM was publicly trying to make Chevrolet the global mainstream brand.
        srmcg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        In the rest of the world Chevrolet is seen as a bland nasty cheap brand. It replaced Daewoo. Its brand recognition is awful. Opel has much more appeal than Chevrolet ever will. Should keep it Holden only though in Australia. Opel is thought of as german, same with Ford in europe.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @srmcg
          This post is the most accurate here - Chevrolet replaced Daewoo and is still viewed as a budget brand to compete with the likes of Proton, Hyundai, Kia and Skoda.
          Mbukukanyau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @srmcg
          you are thinking of 1995
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @srmcg
          No, I am firmly in 2013. Chevrolet took over from Daewoo in 2005 in many countries to a great deal of fanfare, and the public perception in those countries is that Chevrolet remains the budget brand Daewoo was.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        "What were they thinking?! I thought GM was publicly trying to make Chevrolet the global mainstream brand." A ridiculous move by GM when only a few years previously, mainstream Opels such as the Astra and Corsa were sold as Holdens in Australia. The Barina (aka Corsa) was replaced by a new Barina which was nothing more than a rebadged T200 Aveo/Kalos, and the descent continued when the Astra was replaced by the GM-DAT sourced Cruze. The attempt to reintroduce those former Holdens as something more upmarket was clearly met acrimoniously by Australians and the marketing move severely backfired.
        throwback
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        They weren't thinking, should have sold Opel when they were coming out of bankruptcy.
          Mbukukanyau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @throwback
          Bad move. That would wipe them off the face of Europe with one stroke of a Pen
        Luis A. Martinez
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        Business for S.A.I.C. (China GM) and GM Korea,ex Daewoo....they own GM Korea and is more money selling Korean cars than spend some money on real Opels (Vauxhall,Holden) that was part of the deal back on 2009,but hey time will tell and more and more people are going to switch for VW,Kia,Hyundai,Fiat or any other brand with real long term quality cars
          Mbukukanyau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Luis A. Martinez
          GM Daewoo does not engineer its own cars. You need to look at GM Global Engineering structure.
      Matt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm no Toyota fan, but they have the brand thing figured out; Toyota as the mainstream brand, Lexus as the luxury brand, and Scion as the youth/fun brand. GM: THREE BRANDS IS ALL YOU NEED. For GM, It should be Chevy, Caddy, and Pontiac (or make a new brand for youth/fun, since they would look stupid killing Pontiac then bringing it back). Buick is pointless, GMC is pointless, and these Euro brands have no place outside of Europe. Let the aussies keep Holden, it's part of their automotive heritage.
        Bernard
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        You forgot that we live in a global economy. Just because that would work for the US, does not mean it would work for GM. Buick is for China, China is huge. Buick in the US because GM is global.
        Felipe Politano
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        Do you really REALLY think Scion is a role model for the entire industry? :O
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        [blocked]
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good. Now it's time to close Opel all over the world, including Europe. Chevrolet is the fastest growing brand in Europe and outsells Opel-just sell the current Chevy models in Europe, and people will buy them.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        "Good. Now it's time to close Opel all over the world, including Europe." The world's populace usually laugh at Americans because of their notorious ignorance of the wider world, and this comment is no exception. Despite Chevrolets being sold alongside Opels at significantly cheaper prices, and several use the same platforms, they still sell less than one-tenth of the units Opel does. Europeans simply won't buy cheap Korean cars en masse in the same way that cheap Americans do, no matter how much your bleat. The reason Opel failed in Australia is because the smaller Holden products used to be rebadged Opels, before being replaced by lower-rent GM-DAT products. Then the former Opels were reintroduced at higher prices - a move that was destined to fail.
          anon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Indeed they sell different models of Chevrolet's in different markets. Sadly in the US we don't get the Holden Stateman'ed middle east Chevrolet Caprice EXCEPT of course as a law enforcement police only Caprice PPV.
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Opel fans like to ignore how much money Opel is losing. If it were independent, Opel would have closed up shop quite a while ago (as would NA GM a few years ago, if it weren't for government). GM has the right to decide the brand strategy globally. If they want to make Chevrolet the true global mainstream GM brand, they can do that. My recommendation would be to relabel cars in Europe (and Australia) as Chevrolets and Cadillacs -- regardless of whether they are designed in NA, Korea, or in Germany by the mystical wünder-engineer squad who, I'll point out again, has been losing a huge sum of money and doesn't really make all that premium vehicles anyway. Sure, it would take time for Europeans to get used to buying a car with a Chevrolet badge -- but all those super savvy consumers who immediately saw Chevrolets as Korean garbage would quickly realize that rebadged Opels are just as good as the current Opels (for whatever that is worth).
        Avinash Machado
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Chevy is doing quite badly in Europe.
      Felipe Politano
      • 2 Years Ago
      Problem is GM tried to sell Opel as a more upmarket brand in Australia, leaving Holden to battle the mainstream wars. Opel was betting heavily on the Astra, that was sold before as the Holden Astra - but charging more. Australians were used to see Opels sold as Holdens for decades (just like brazilians were used to buy Opels with bowtie Chevy logos on the hood) and would simply not buy into this "premium european" image GM was trying to come up with. GM should introduce the Buick brand in those countries where Opel models are no longer sold, being replaced by an all-Chevy line up; Buick should be proposed as a proper premium brand, especially since those countries (like Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile) don't have the perception of the tri-shield as the granny-mobile maker. In Brazil, for example, it would be WAY easier to sell a Buick Verano for almost Audi A3 price than the same car as an Opel Astra, since the last Chevrolet Astra was a very cheap and popular car, still around in taxi duty in poor neighborhoods. I know that this sounds impossible for american enthusiasts, but Buick happens to be GM's premium brand with the most potential for emerging markets. Cadillacs are too big and expensive to sell in reasonable volumes in places like South America, India and Russia. Those market don't value engine displacement and rear wheel drive like most others, and smaller offerings like the Verano and Encore are just perfect. Just look at China. Too bad GM isn't giving Buick a try in other emerging markets, but Cadillac instead.
      groingo
      • 2 Years Ago
      See the GM pattern, screwing up and shutting down one after another, at this rate they'll be begging the Government for more money for Government Motors again.
        Mbukukanyau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @groingo
        Unfortunately you are correct. The only thing that seems right with GM is Chevrolet and Buick at this time.
      Mbukukanyau
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is no need for Opel In Australia, as long as GM does not differentiate between Holden and Opel. What is needed is an alignment of brands. GM needs to do this. 1. Chevrolet needs to be introduced in Australia below Holden. 2. 2. Opel/Buick and Holden need to work together as a global Unit. It will be like Lexus. starting somewhere around (In US pricing) $22,000.00 all the way to $120,000.00 for mainstream products. They just would not be any stripper models. And even above that for specialty products. This would allow the Unit to utilize all GM platforms from Adam types to Alpha and even Omega type products and even develop its own racing adventures like Chevrolet. 3. # 2 above would allow Chevrolet to operate somewhere from around $9,000 all the way to $90,000.00 and Corvette could even push above that to $200,000.00 and be truly global 4. This Frees Cadillac too to become Global and punch with Mercedes all the way to the Bentleys and rolls. Where it was in the 30’s. ATS and derivatives would be its base model. There also would be no need for things like SRX & XTS to keep the brand making money. 5. GMC needs to take on Jeep/ Replace Hummer and replace Isuzu in some markets where GM markets Isuzu trucks. They also need to become a global brand. 6. Brands like Baujun need to stay regional. 7. Canada only brand in the name of Pontiac should be considered.
      Brodz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good. It's too crowded here as it is.
      Daniel D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cadillac didn't even get a car to market in Australia when they tried to launch that a while ago. The sign went up at the Holden headquarters and just came down again. I believe the cars destined fro Australia and on a boat at the time, were diverted to New Zealand. Australia is now one of the most competitive car markets in the world. If Holden is rebranded Chevrolet GM will suffer huge drop in sales. Its not that anyone hates Chevrolet, its that we like Holden better.
        Cyrus Brooks
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Daniel D
        GM has a bad habits of pissing away brand equity like its done with Pontiac, Buick, and now Holden. It seems to me that Chevrolet, and Opel are unnecessary duplication of effort in Australia when Holden works just fine. GM has more duplication than the Pentagon.
          Robert Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Cyrus Brooks
          Chevrolet is a "nothing" brand outside NA. Opel is the basis of many cars sold in North America.GM should not be trying to undercut Opel in Europe, seeing they are providing a lot of the chassis for NA for them.
        Mbukukanyau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Daniel D
        There is also only 25,000,000.00 people approximately, Cadillac should aim to sell only top of the range Models over there and probably have only two dealership. Cadillac Global operations needs to look at the RHD market as one. It streaches to all English speaking countries excluding Nigeria. add Japan to the Mix and you have a HUGE market. But Americans do not think global properly. This is the problem Cadillac faces. They see UK as Europe, without seeing UK, Australia, Japan, UK etc. as one luxury consumer, even if you just had 7 dealers in each country, then planted 2 dealerships in each of the Major cities in Africa and perhaps 20 Dealers in India. Then stop worrying about your month to month numbers and think of long term investments in these countries and customers. Proper Australia, Japan, India etc as one luxury consumer, even if you just had 7 dealers in each country, then planted 2 dealerships in each of the Major cities in Africa and perhaps 20 Dealers in India, 10 in Japan Customer treatment.
      Gugue
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, for years Holden, Vauxhall and Chevrolet in many markets used to be Opel based or rebadged Opels... it's too early for people stop associate Opel products to these brands, so trying to upmarket Opel won't be an easy task...
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