HOLDEN’S PARENT COMPANY HAS ITS EYES SET ON THE DRIVING NEEDS OF MILLENNIALS
Holden’s European parent company, Opel, revealed the new Astra at the Frankfurt motor show this week. The hatchback is an important vehicle in the motoring giant’s future.
General Motors chief Mary Barra unveiled the car at a dinner.
Next day, the Astra and a sports wagon were displayed at the world’s largest vehicle expo, with more than 1000 exhibitors.
New Zealand will get the Astra last next year, one of Holden’s 24 new models to be introduced over the next five years.
The tagline for Astra’s launch in Europe is “upset the luxury class” and the car has a huge array of technology including massaging front seats, wifi and semi-autonomous driving.
Holden Astra arrives in New Zealand next year.
In New Zealand, the car will come in two engine variants — a 1.4-litre ecotec direct injection turbo with 114kW of power and 240Nm of torque or a 1.6-litre ecotec (146kW/300Nm).
Holden NZ’s managing director, Kristian Aquilina, was excited about the hatch.
“The Astra is a stunning vehicle, and will play an important role in Holden’s New Zealand line-up,” he told Driven. “Not only does it represent an attractive option for our small-car customers, it is the lead act in Holden’s exciting future.
“Kiwis will love this car, and our local tuning efforts mean Astra will be right at home on Kiwi roads.”
The car goes on sale in Europe on October 11 and 4000 have already been ordered.
It’s an important vehicle for the Opel division of GM — sales in Europe are slow, due to sales levelling off in China and the collapse of the ruble, which shunted the Russian economy into recession. Analysts expect sales of new cars and light commercials to fall 36 per cent this year.
Opel’s president, Karl Thomas Neumann, said he expected his company to “break even” next year and was hoping the Astra would attract younger buyers. Neumann and Barra said the car’s smartphone connectivity and wifi would increase attention from the Millennial generation.
“We’ve done a lot of research to understand what Millennials are looking for in vehicles, aspects they care about, and connectivity is one. Another thing we’re looking at is affordability,” Barra told Driven.
“It starts at looking at that customer and we’ve invested heavily in that.”
Neumann said an Opel product attracting younger buyers was the Adam mini hatchback, smaller than the Spark but not available in New Zealand. The average age of the Adam owner was 37, and the vehicle was also popular among females.
He said attracting younger buyers had to do with the right product.
“That’s why wifi is good but also the brand — we tell young stories with the brand, that’s what we’re trying to do.
“We’re laughing about ourselves, we’re not taking ourselves too seriously — we do things that are not expected.
“We just want to be bold and put a smile on people’s face and not to take themselves too serious and be younger in our entire appearance.”