Is the new Holden Commodore an instant orphan?
The latest ZB Commodore, launched this week is not only the first imported Commodore; it could also be the shortest lived of the lot.
SPECULATION OVER the future of the new Commodore has been rife, even before the car itself had turned a wheel.
The purchase from General Motors of the Opel and Vauxhall brands last year by French-government owned PSA (maker of Peugeot and Citroen) threw the whole Commodore thing into doubt as details of the deal became clearer. For its part, PSA’s view was that the Opel brand would, under its stewardship be reduced to just two distinct, PSA-developed platforms, possibly as early as 2021. Read Paul Horrell’s report on this, he sniffed out the orphan angle before the rest of the world caught up.
And the GM-developed Opel Insignia platform, on which the new Commodore is heavily based, was, as a result, for the chop.
But Holden’s chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard told Practical Motoring at this week’s launch of the ZB Commodore, that the deal with PSA locked the French company into supplying the Insignia platform for at least six years.
“Under the agreement (with PSA) we get this (the ZB Commodore) and the Astra for the full life-cycle; so, it’s good for six years,” Mr Bernhard said.
But what happens beyond that? “Do I have a plan beyond PSA? No. But ask me again in 18 months.”
Even so, it seems as though the Opel-based Commodore will have a shorter-than-average lifespan within the GM world, as the game is likely to change after those six years.
Holden’s four previous generations of Commodore have enjoyed lifespans of 10 years, nine years, nine years and 12 years respectively.
Holden has already admitted that it doesn’t expect the imported Commodore to sell as well as the locally-built version that disappeared late last year, so amortising the development costs on fewer cars and over six years rather than nine is a big ask.
Meantime, it’s difficult to imagine General Motors buying a car from PSA (or anybody else) to re-engineer and sell as a Holden.
A more likely scenario would be GM dipping into its huge global catalogue and adapting either a North American or South Korean (GM owns Daewoo) design for use Down Under.
The Opel-based car is also sold in North America as a Buick, so any replacement for that car could point the way forward for the Commodore franchise.