Remember Opel?

It was launched by General Motors as a extra premium sidekick to Holden in 2012 earlier than quickly retreating to the protection of Europe in 2013 after barely making a ripple, not to mention a splash, on the gross sales charts.

Numerous water has gone underneath the bridge since then. Opel was offloaded by The General alongside British sibling Vauxhall in 2017, at which level it joined Peugeot, Citroen, and DS underneath the Groupe PSA umbrella.

The merger between PSA and Fiat Chrysler in 2021 noticed it grow to be a part of the Stellantis household the place it now lives, manufacturing enticing hatches and SUVs on platforms shared with the most recent Peugeot merchandise.

Based on a current journey to Europe, there are lots round. The Italian autostrada was filled with Mokkas and Astras, each of which look wonderful in individual. They’d look nice on Australian roads, in reality.

Stellantis is presently scattered to the wind Down Under. Jeep, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat are distributed by head workplace, whereas third-party distributor Ateco takes care of Ram and Maserati.

Another importer, Inchcape, takes care of Peugeot and Citroen. The Inchcape secure can be probably the most pure house for Opel in my grand plan, the place it might change slow-selling Citroen and act as a extra reasonably priced foil to Peugeot.

Peugeot has been rebuilt as a premium-ish model occupying the area between Volkswagen and Audi, as evidenced by pricing for the brand new 308. It kicks off simply shy of $44,000 earlier than on-roads, giving the model no rival to entry-level Golf or Mazda 3 fashions, not to mention the Koreans.

Why not permit a cheaper, much less luxurious Astra to sit down under it, providing Europhiles a extra reasonably priced various to the Golf with out undermining Peugeot’s premium push?

Sourcing automobiles from Europe is dear in 2022, however Peugeot has admitted to CarExpert it has the choice of getting a less expensive 308 to our shores if customers demand it. In different phrases, it’s not unimaginable.

As for the Mokka? Given it’d compete with the strong-selling Volkswagen T-Roc, Mazda CX-30, and Toyota Corolla Cross, there’s no scarcity of demand for automobiles identical to it. The bigger Grandland X SUV appears to be like sharp as effectively, however let’s not get forward of ourselves.

Opel even has a spread of electrical automobiles it’s beginning to roll out in Europe. There’s an Astra EV, a Mokka EV, and electrical variations of its small Combo van, Corsa metropolis hatchback, Vivaro medium van, and Movano giant van.

Save for the Corsa, there’s demand for all these electrical automobiles Down Under.

Numerous the components which may make it laborious to promote Opel regionally are gone. The Mokka and Astra share their platforms with the Peugeot vary, so it’s not as if you happen to can’t get elements regionally – nor would the brand new model drive Inchcape to hold myriad new SKUs in its elements warehouses.

Opel builds the Astra and Mokka in right-hand drive for the UK market at its plant in Russelsheim – the identical plant which provided the ZB Commodore to Australia in huge numbers earlier than its axing – so it’s not as if there’s no approach to make automobiles for our market.

Holden is lengthy lifeless, and any affiliation between Opel and General Motors in Australian minds is more likely to be weak (at finest) given the model solely lasted 12 months Down Under. Melbourne Demons supporters (AFL, northerners) would possibly bear in mind the Opel identify, given it sponsored the staff for a 12 months, however that’s about it.

The market has modified considerably since 2013, with the launch of Cupra and Genesis proving consumers are prepared to take a punt on a brand new model if it’s telling the correct story. Opel even relaunched in New Zealand not too long ago.

Throw in the very fact a recent badge provides Inchcape (or Stellantis itself) an opportunity to experiment with promoting automobiles on-line or direct to customers with out upsetting present sellers, and also you’ve bought a reasonably interesting recipe.

It’s additionally an opportunity to switch Citroen with a spread of automobiles that has an opportunity to make some severe inroads in the Australian market.

With simply 241 gross sales thus far this 12 months, Citroen is much less fashionable than Maserati in Australia, and solely narrowly outsells the likes of Ferrari and Bentley. That represents progress, however the model nonetheless teeters perilously near why hassle territory.

Its vary is fascinating, led by the funky C5 X crossover, however there’s no hazard of the common Volkswagen or Mazda purchaser being tempted by what it’s providing. The C5 Aircross hasn’t fired a shot in certainly one of Australia’s busiest segments, the C4 is a distinct segment metropolis automotive hampered by an optimistic value, and the much less stated in regards to the C3 the higher.

The free-thinkers and contrarian cosmopolitan consumers who’ve historically supported Citroen are gravitating to Polestar and Tesla in droves as EV gross sales take off, and Cupra, Genesis, and Skoda supply extra cohesive automobiles for these unwilling to purchase a big-name model.

It’s laborious to see Citroen dragging itself out of the outlet it’s in with out an enormous advertising push and a special product method Down Under, neither of which appears to be like doubtless.

Opel might be the lacking piece in the Inchcape (and Stellantis) puzzle Down Under, and completely complement the ever extra premium Peugeot – name it a one-two punch aimed squarely at Volkswagen.

At the second, it’s preventing with one hand tied behind its again.

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