Vauxhall could source products from Asia or Australia if it is separated from Opel
29 April 2009

Vauxhall may have to source its cars from Korea if General Motors retains the brand after a possible sale of sister brand Opel.

The possibility of Opel becoming separated from GM leaves what one US-based General Motors insider described to Autocar as “a precarious position” in terms of future models and ongoing production in the UK.

GM is weighing up a plan involving sourcing models from its Korean subsidiary, GM DAT (formerly known as Daewoo). It carried out a similar move when its Australian outfit, Holden, began sourcing its front-drive cars from Daewoo instead of Opel in order to improve flagging profits, hit by a weak Australian dollar and a strong Euro.

As a result, many Holden-badged Opel-sourced models have since been replaced by cheaper Daewoo-produced successors.

Under a similar scheme, Vauxhall models such as the Corsa, Astra and Insignia would, in the longer term, be replaced by Daewoo-produced models such as the Kalos, Lacetti and Epica.

“If Opel is sold and becomes separated from General Motors it will leave Vauxhall in a rather difficult position. In the longer term, there may be no option than for it to begin sourcing future models from Daewoo,” said our US source.

As a knock-on effect, Chevrolet would be likely to cease to exist in the UK, with its sales network being incorporated into Vauxhall’s operations. Holden sources have hinted at a possible increase in operations with Vauxhall.

Already charged with rear-wheel drive development within General Motors’ worldwide operations, Holden may begin supplying Vauxhall with a wider range of models in coming years, including the Commodore saloon and Sportwagon, as well as upmarket derivatives in the form of the Statesman and Caprice. All are produced in right-hand drive for the Australian and New Zealand markets, meaning it would be a fairly straightforward procedure to make them suitable for sale in the UK.

As part of a plan to further infiltrate the European market, Holden is already well advanced on development of a diesel engine for the Commodore. Supplied by Italian diesel engine specialist VM Motori, the 2.9-litre V6 unit is claimed to deliver 250bhp and 405lb ft of torque.

Also under discussion, according to Holden sources, is a plan to make available a wider range of high performance HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) models in the UK.

Greg Kable

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