When General Motors launched the Opel brand in the Australian market just 11 months ago in September of 2012, officials predicted local sales of around 15,000 cars within the first three years. Reality, however, proved to be a bitter disappointment as Opel delivered a pitiful 541 vehicles last year and only 989 in the first six months of 2013.
With these kind of sales figures, there was only one thing GM could do and that was to pull the plug and take its losses. The company made the announcement today stating in order to be competitive in the Australian market, it would have to slash prices on all models.
“We can’t sell our cars at the price they need to be in order to meet our volume targets,” Opel spokeswoman Michelle Langt told News Australia. “The Astra small car was supposed to underpin our brand but with the prices of most rivals dipping to close to $20,000 we just couldn’t compete.”
“These changes, combined with the continued investment required to ensure brand awareness, result in a business which is not financially viable for any of the parties involved,” Opel said in an official statement on Friday.
Back in the 1990s and 2000s, Opels were re-badged as Holdens in the local market. GM’s decision to offer the brand in Australia was part of a broader plan to expand Opel’s worldwide reach to offset losses in Europe.
News Australia nicely summed up the problem with GM’s attempt to market Opel in the same country it offers the Holden and Chevrolet brands: “General Motors tried to pitch a relatively unknown badge with a price premium in a market with 67 brands. Now there are 66.”
Hat tip to Matt J.!