Peugeot takes over Opel; where next for Australia’s Holden?

Is that the sunset for Holden’s Commodore?

Peugeot of France has successfully completed its takeover of General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, in a deal worth 2.2 billion Euros. The agreement also encompasses the Opel subsidiary of Vauxhall, a brand largely built in the UK, but little known outside of country. The deal will see the ownership of GM’s six assembly plants, along with the engineering facility at Russelsheim and half of the GM European Financial operation, transfer to the PSA Group, and in doing so make them the second biggest European manufacturer.

Word is the PSA Group will convert Opel/Vauxhall’s current line-up of products over to the Peugeot and Citroen brands as a part of the take-over. Like the other large Aussie manufacturers, Ford, Nissan and Toyota, Holden had already ceased manufacturing cars in Australia due to lack of market volume. Thus, the Opel-Peugeot deal could become a little bit worrying for GM’s Australian subsidiary, Holden, which had already embarked on a most ambitious Europeanisation in its 69-year history as an integral part of its post-manufacturing future.

Due to changing tastes of Aussie car buyers, Holden had previously stressed the importance of sourcing European models for its future line-up. The soon to be launched Commodore, the first not to be produced in Australia, is of course sourced from Opel. Although Mary Barra, the GM Chief Exec, confirmed that the French-owned Opel would continue to provide Holden with the vehicles under a long-term supply deal inked by the two manufacturers, the Commodore may be heading into the sunset in much the same way as the Ford Falcon did.

Whilst Barra may be making the right noises, the timing of the deal could not be worse, with Holden struggling with sales at home – just 6% market share at present – and it may now have trouble convincing the Australian public that it will be able to continue past the October 2017 manufacturing shutdown date. Holden and the Commodore marque were once as Australian as you could get; perhaps now they will have a French accent.

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