Sacre Bleu!

Opel’s A$3.1bn sale to PSA has thrown our next-gen Commodore’s future into a tailspin. Here’s what it really means for Holden

TOBY HAGON

HOLDEN is gearing up to embark on a global search to secure the long-term future of the Commodore following the shock A$3.1 billion sale of Opel to PSA, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen.

The US, China or South Korea are obvious targets to take over supply of Holden’s iconic large car once the current Germansourced Commodore, to be produced by Opel from early next year, has run its model cycle, expected by about 2024.

Potentially Holden could continue to take future Commodores from Opel under PSA ownership. Yet this scenario is unlikely, especially as the focus for that car and its future architecture is likely to be Europe (a post-2024 car would by then almost certainly share its platform with large Peugeots and Citroens.)

A more likely scenario would be GM aligning the Commodore with upcoming large cars within its own stables: the Buick Regal (which is likely to have its own platform by then) or Chevrolet Malibu or Impala would be obvious choices.

General Motors president Dan Ammann is tight-lipped over where Holden would source a post-2024 Commodore from, instead focusing on the imminent arrival of the new Commodore, which, by its 2018 onsale date, will be manufactured in Germany by a French-owned brand.

“No specific decisions have been taken on that front,” Ammann told Wheels within 24 hours of the early March sale announcement, adding that the move by GM to offload Opel could actually increase the options for Holden moving forward.

“As a result of this announcement, I’d say there’s more opportunity [for Holden], not less,” said Ammann. “Clearly the current models that are just launching will run through their full lifecycle; what we do beyond that is yet to be determined.”

Holden has the luxury of time on its hands; a decision on the replacement for the 2018 imported Commodore would need to be made by about 2020, but could run later depending on where it is ultimately sourced from.

Expect any decision to be pushed back as late as possible, especially in light of Holden’s current challenges. Holden is trying to rebuild from its record low market share – just 6.4 percent in February – while preparing for the October 20 shutdown of manufacturing.

Beyond Commodore there are just as many questions. Long term, for example, the Astra nameplate is unlikely to live on, at least as a Holden. It and the architecture it sits on are owned by Opel. As long as Holden buys the car from Opel (PSA) it’ll be called Astra, but beyond the current deal it’s likely a Holden small car will come from elsewhere in the GM world – with a different name.

Which raises another prospect: Opel could attempt a relaunch in Australia to challenge Holden. GM president Dan Ammann confirmed there are no restrictions on Opel expanding globally – or Chevrolet returning to Europe.

Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu or Chevrolet Impala could replace the 2018 Commodore