Commodore and Astra’s French connection

So now it’s confirmed. Europe-sourced Holdens now have a French flavour.

TWO key new Opel-supplied Holdens vital to the Aussie brand’s local market passenger car drive will be unaffected by General Motors’ sale of its German affiliate to the outfit that makes Peugeot, DS and Citroen cars sold here.

However, there’s now potential the just-landed Astra and the Commodore incoming in early 2018 could yet turn up with the new owner’s badging, perhaps in competition to the Holden passenger stalwarts.

Meantime, in responding to Opel being sold the France’s PSA, Holden New Zealand boss Kristian Aquilina has stuck rigidly to lines issued by Melbourne head office.

“Holden and Opel have had close ties for many years and delivered fantastic vehicles to New Zealand customers, including the current all-new Astra and the next-generation Commodore due in 2018,” Aquilina said in a statement today.

“The good news is these product programmes are not affected at all.”

Nonetheless, that comment potentially only holds true for the cars that have already been fully developed and are showroom-set.

The longer-term implications of this changeover for Holden might be much murkier, as PSA – which becomes Europe’s second-largest car maker as result of the acquisition – has already signalling intention to shift the German fare to its own powertrains and platforms in due course.

With that in mind, there’s good chance that the just-arrived Astra and incoming Commodore will remain as they are for just one model cycle – which might translate to a mere five to seven years.

After that, those cars could well become different versions of Peugeot’s dimensional equivalents – presently that’s the the 308/3008 and 508/5008.

However, there’s another emergent intrigue, insofar that the deal allows for PSA Group to convert Opel's products to Peugeot- and Citroen-based cars as part of the handover. 

So, are you ready for a Citroen Commodore or a DS Astra?

In New Zealand, the whole takeover must seem a weird turn-up. Whereas PSA is a juggernaut on home turf it is a total minnow here. Holden, on the other hand, is our giant; it ended 2016 as the second strongest performing passenger brand, behind Toyota, and sells more cars in one month than the combined annual tally of PSA products.

Sentiment from the national distributor of PSA product, Sime Darby NZ, obviously demands evaluation.

Does the privateer see potential for local sector positives or is it fearful about cars and technology it presently has sole dibs on going to a rival brand that enjoys a vastly higher profile?

It has yet to say a word about this situation but, undoubtedly, those issues might well rise to the surface in time.

For the here and now, Aquilina suggests it is simply business as usual, offering: “We will continue to work closely with Opel and GM to deliver our vehicle plans with excellence and precision. 

“This includes future, new right-hand-drive sports utility vehicles like the Equinox and Acadia that were engineered specifically for right-hand drive markets.”

 News that our Commodore will be French-owned by the time it reaches us broke last night.

GM chairman and chief executive Mary Barra confirmed the French-owned Opel would continue to provide Holden with vehicles under a supply deal negotiated between the carmakers.

The $US3.1 billion deal will see General Motors sell its six assembly plants, German-based engineering facility at Russelsheim and half of GM Financial’s European operations.

The announcement is seismic as Holden is committed to its most ambitious European-sourced model offensive in its 69-year history as a major strategy of its 2018 and beyond post-manufacturing future.

GM and Holden have previously stressed the importance of sourcing vehicles from Europe given the shift in Australian tastes towards luxury and European models.

Barra said the deal is about “reshaping our company” and says it creates “a new opportunity to enhance the long-term performance of our respective companies”.

“For GM, this represents another major step in the ongoing work that is driving our improved performance and accelerating our momentum.

“We are reshaping our company and delivering consistent, record results for our owners through disciplined capital allocation to our higher-return investments in our core automotive business and in new technologies that are enabling us to lead the future of personal mobility.”