Plan to take GM's Australian brand Holden global

Melbourne, Australia. General Motors' long-term plan is to make its Australia subsidiary Holden a global brand.

Holden-built models are sold under different GM brands outside Australia and New Zealand, but GM plans to "establish Holden as a worldwide brand," said former Opel research and development boss Peter H. Hanenberger, who now heads Holden.

"We are already bigger than our Swedish 'sister' Saab and we are close to Vauxhall and Cadillac's results," Hanenberger said.

In 2002 Holden sold 210,300 units, up 7 percent from the previous year. The Australian market leader's net profit was approximately 150.7 million euros.

"Our aim for 2003 is to reach the highest profit in the company's history and to increase sales to approximately 220,000 vehicles," Hanenberger said.

In Australia Holden sells nearly all Opel-designed models and some Isuzu models. The new Vectra has been marketed under the Holden brand since April. So far there are no plans for launching the Opel Signum.

"Over here innovative seating systems are not a buying incentive," Hanenberger said.

Price will decide whether the new Astra will be launched in Australia.

"The high euro is currently causing us problems," he said.

It is possible that a Holden model will soon be launched on the British market.

"Vauxhall is interested in a small series of the Monaro coupe," Hanenberger said. The sports car resembles the Opel Calibra.

Hanenberger said Holden's success is due to several factors.

Australia is a low-cost location and Holden uses a strict platform strategy.

"We are currently building 28 bodyworks on one platform. By the end of 2003 it will be 35," he said. He added that Holden has a "flexibility between its two plants, which is unique within the GM group."

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