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Australia October 2012 Sydney Motor Show special – Part 3 Newcomer Opel refines target, Skoda aims at Top 15

Skoda Rapid

* See the full article and the Top 67 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title! *

This is Part 3 of my Sydney Motor Show special report, you can see Part 1 covering Toyota, Mazda, Ford and Holden here and Part 2 covering Hyundai, VW, Kia, Range Rover and Lamborghini here. This time we have a look at the two newbies at the Show, Opel and Infiniti, as well as Skoda, which is with Jeep the fastest growing manufacturer in Australia.

As hard as it is to believe given the brand has over a century of history, this is Opel’s very first appearance at any Australian Motor Show. Managing Director Bill Mott unveiled the Astra OPC and announced the model will be on sale in the country in February 2013. Opel had its very first month of sales in Australia in September, with 100 Astras, 44 Insignias and 30 Corsas changing hands. This means the brand ranks #28, ahead of Fiat, Citroen and Porsche…

Opel Astra OPC

Earlier in the year, former global Opel boss Karl-Friedrich Stracke revealed the company hoped to reach 15,000 sales in Australia by 2015/2016, equivalent to what Audi or BMW currently sell in the country. Opel since qualified this as a ‘stretch target’ so the Motor Show was a great opportunity to understand Opel’s true intentions for this market. Bill Mott told me: “We realise that other European brands have been present for many, many years and we are starting from scratch. Once the Opel range gets more complete, we would be very happy to be at the level of brands like Peugeot, Renault or Volvo within 3 to 4 years.” Now that’s a way more realistic target if you ask me. It means a spot in the Top 25 and around 5,000 annual sales.

The Mokka would help Opel establish itself in Australia.

As weird as it sounds to launch the Opel brand on the other side of the planet given the manufacturer’s problems in Europe, it is however a conscious strategy from General Motors. Bill Mott confirms: “Currently 90% of Opel sales are done in Europe, so there is a will to expand the brand worldwide to reduce this dependency, and Australia is only one of many countries is which Opel is being launched right now.” Israel, Chili and Singapore are now complete, with North Africa and the Middle-East in progress. Bill Mott also announced that he “raised his hand” to get the Mokka, Zafira Tourer and, if the Astra OPC proves a success, both the Corsa and Insignia OPC imported to Australia.

Lexus LF-LC Blue

I was also lucky enough to have a long chat with Matthew Wiesner, Director of Skoda Australia. Skoda is currently one of the two fastest-growing mainstream car brands in Australia with sales up a huge 66% over the first 9 months 2012 to 3,045 units. Only Jeep does better (+117%) while Great Wall and Land Rover follow at a distance, both at +38%. Matthew Wiesner unveiled the Rapid with a fun skit involving spacemen and Skoda’s very own Yeti mascot. He said to me: “Skoda’s role in the Volkswagen Group in Australia is to create a very strong presence amongst the Japanese and Korean brands. We aim to be somewhere between 1 and 2% of the market by 2019.”

See the 9 months 2012 Top 67 All-brands ranking by clicking on’Read more’ below.

See ‘Read more’ below for the full article featuring Infiniti, Lexus & 10 other brands.

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