As Cruze departs, Astra arrives

The end of the line for Cruze gives clearer insight as to when Astra arrives in New Zealand.

Holden Cruze

Holden Cruze

CESSATION of Australian production of the Cruze in October might not impact too greatly on Kiwi customers as by then the focus will have switched to a swisher sector replacement from Europe.

Speaking on Holden Australia’s determination to end production of the compact hatch and sedan, Holden New Zealand has also given its clearest indication yet as to the entry planning for the replacement, Opel-built Astra.

“The end of Cruze (times) with the arrival of a five-door Astra, that’s been the plan all along,” HNZ’s general manager of marketing says.

“If we have done our job right it should be a very seamless transition from one small car to another,” Marnie Samphier continued. “That’s the plan at this stage.”

For now, Holden NZ prefers not to put an exact date on the changeover. How closely it times with the end of Cruze production will depend on the pace of the outgoing car’s runout.

“At the moment we are just saying it is in the fourth quarter. Definitely before the end of the year and it just comes down to how well we manage that runout with Cruze. That will dictate when we release Astra.

“We will definitely take Cruze right up to the end of its production. It is still doing well and it is doing well with fleet and lease. It will remain important right up to the end.”

Holden’s hopes for the Astra are high and will have been buoyed by the car having been named overnight as European car of the year, the award being announced in the lead-up to the Geneva motor show.

The new model, set to be sourced from Europe, is expected to achieve higher volume than Cruze, which averaged 130 units per month in 2015, against an average of 160 per month the year before.

“I hope so. It (Astra) has had good reviews in Europe, it really is something and we are hoping for great things.”

However, that outcome might not be enforced immediately as there’s potential Astra will only be available in hatchback format during its 2016 sales period, though a sedan is also cited for introduction.

“Astra is initially five-door only but we do have a plan for a sedan, because that (shape) is still important in the lineup. But the timing of that is still in discussion ... there may be a slight gap between Cruze sedan going and Astra sedan arriving.”

That scenario is also occurring with Astra wagon, though that’s even further into the future.

“Initially we won’t have a wagon in this small car sector. It’s a very small volume anyway.” As for Astra wagon? “It’s in the plan at the moment, as to what we can do.”

Cruze has been manufactured at the Elizabeth plant for the past five and a half years. The cessation of its production, at the cost of 400 jobs at Holden’s car manufacturing plant in northern Adelaide, was announced last week.

The scrapping of the model is another step toward the complete shutdown of the plant in late 2017, but in the meantime it will continue to produce Commodore sedans, wagons and utilities.

The end of Cruze production first up had always been part of the scaling down plans by General Motors Holden after the decision was made in late 2013 to end car making in Australia at the end of next year.

The job losses at Holden came as an attempt by Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey to try and revive the Elizabeth factory in Adelaide finally came to an end.