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BARCELONA, Spain — Opel is considering reentering the luxury car sector with a replacement for the discontinued Omega sedan.

The car could be built on the rear-drive Zeta platform under development in Australia. However, it will not be ready before 2010, Carl-Peter Forster, GM Europe's president, told the Automotive News Europe Congress. The Omega, popular with British and German police forces, was killed off in 2003. It had struggled to win sales against prestige brands such as BMW and Audi.

The Omega replacement is likely to be a crossover, combining SUV and wagon attributes. Clues to its eventual form can be found in the Insignia concept car, shown at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. GM's largest current European model is the slow-selling Signum, based on the front-drive Vectra platform.

General Motors recently stopped work on the Zeta platform in the U.S., but the project is still alive at GM's Australian subsidiary, Holden, where it forms the basis of the upcoming VE Commodore sedan. Sources in Australia say this platform is likely to be used for the new Opel, and possibly future rear-drive North American GM products, too.

What this means to you: Nice idea, but Opel's brand is seen as a volume nameplate, not a luxury one, so it's hard to see it making a dent in BMW, Audi and Mercedes' sales.

Holden looks for overseas production drive
By Ian Porter
May 10, 2005​

Holden and parent company General Motors are still working on a plan to cut complexity at the Elizabeth assembly plant in South Australia by putting the Commodore platform into production in another country.

The plan received a major setback a month ago when GM, under financial pressure because of sagging sales in America, cancelled the US introduction of the so-called Zeta platform (a car's basic body structure) designed and developed by Holden.

But Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney is certain the Zeta platform will go into production outside Australia.

"Our architecture will be built somewhere else in the world within the next two years," Mr Mooney said. "There will be an expansion of Zeta products."

Holden exports to more than 20 countries, including sending the high-profile Monaro coupe to the US, and Mr Mooney said the pessimistic conclusions drawn about Zeta, Commodore and Holden after the GM announcement were untrue.

The creation of another production base for Zeta/Commodore is important because the Elizabeth plant is on the verge of becoming dysfunctional as it struggles to produce about 30 variations of the Commodore.

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Advertisement"We might have too many models for one assembly plant because we have a lot of export business," Mr Mooney conceded.

"We're proud we can do that but there is a line where, for the added 1000 cars, you have to ask, is it worth the effort?"

The complexity got Holden into deep trouble earlier this year when an upgrade of the production line, necessitated by the need to make the current model and the new model side by side for a time, went badly wrong.

"We probably took on more than we should have," Mr Mooney admitted. "We are still having challenges."

A second Zeta production base would allow Holden to swap models and simplify its production line.

Mr Mooney would not be drawn on where the second plant might be, but Korea would be a likely location, and not only because Holden holds a 43 per cent stake in GM Daewoo Automotive Technology.

Our architecture will be built somewhere else in the world within the two years.
DENNY MOONEY, Holden MDHolden recently launched the Statesman luxury car in Korea with a Daewoo badge and is also selling the Statesman in China as the Buick Royaum.

As well, Mr Mooney said the Holden engine plant would in future be exporting V6 engines to both Korea and Europe.

While the Daewoo version is only slightly modified, the China model has been changed a lot to make the rear seat area much more luxurious as Chinese owners will not be doing the driving. Another factor in favour of making the Statesman offshore is that projected sales volume in China is "four to five times" local sales.

"It could dwarf our Statesman volume here," Mr Mooney said.

He would not be drawn on whether Elizabeth would be further expanded.
 
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