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26.5.07

Holden Epica arrives in New Zealand (God help us) 

My fears were well founded as launches the in New Zealand—calling it, as in , the .
   The reports across the Tasman are that the Tosca is about as enticing as a porterhouse steak at a Buddhist monastery.
   The Murdoch Press was not complimentary and believes that the Tosca has been beaten on everything except price.
   At least the Aussies get a four-cylinder model. Here in , where the two-litre mid-sized sedan is a staple, Holden is fielding only a 2·5-litre six.
   Holden believes that the -sourced C was a failure, but given that the company spent cents and peppercorns it, it’s no wonder. It was commercial suicide, despite the Vectra (at least in New Zealand) having plenty of supporters after successful A- and B-generation models.
   But Holden New Zealand seemingly has zero independence. It could have sourced the Barina and Vectra from Opel as before. After all, it was courageous enough to do so back in the 1980s, looking to Isuzu for the 1984 Camira, and to Opel for the Vectra A in 1989. Now, it is stuck with selling rebadged Daewoos, including models that were so horrid that they were originally withdrawn from the New Zealand market some four years ago.
   Vectra C sales dried up in Australia due to the model’s switch to imports, after years of local assembly. Consequently, one could buy a bigger Commodore for Vectra money. Here in New Zealand, I imagine buyers were suspicious why the C sold here had the 2003-model grille—when even the Mexican market sports a facelift. My thoughts—not backed up in any way—are that the “new” New Zealand Vectras left the factory some time in 2005, but certainly not in 2006 or 2007.
   We are not that dumb, . And to think, is meant to be a “car guy”, a bloke who loves Holden a lot.
   Yet despite his presence (and aside from the Commodore-derived models), is flogging us the local equivalent of Oldsmobiles: dull, compliant, but no long-term future or positive .
   Maybe , Holden’s boss and an ex-Olds guy, only has one mode.
   When you are spending thousands on a car, you research it well. And Tosca fails on a lot of counts. Plus, people are more brand-sensitive these days—price, while still important, is less of an issue with private buyers. Unfortunately for Holden, buyers will even look, surprise, surprise, at their rivals’ reviews. Or maybe they weren’t aware of this fact?
   The Tosca—as well as the handsome but slightly inept 5—will do well with fleets, but at the end of the day, they have all the usual hallmarks of underdevelopment.
   It is not the first Holden slip-up. When the Daewoo Kalos returned to these shores as the , it replaced its Spanish-built predecessor, the C, that had a four-star NCAP rating. The Kalos has two stars.
   Now, the new Opel Corsa D is cleaning up in Europe, being a little car that has big-car manners. It’s wiping the floor with fragments of what was the Toyota Yaris.
   Here, Holden has given up that market to the Yaris, which is superior to the Kalos in every respect.
   With the Holden Epica on the market, will be laughing when its CD345 Mondeo is launched in New Zealand (reminding the company of the Cortina v. Sunbird days), and doesn’t seem to be getting many sleepless nights with its Camry–Aurion duo.
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Comments:
I'm pleased to say that my 1983 Mitsubishi Super is looking as if it will hang on for another year.  
Good idea, Dawn. Interestingly, I saw a lovely, well maintained 1983 the other day—the ones built at Todd Park. They were evidently made to last.
   And if you ever have the money to buy a Holden Epica, and you must buy Korean, then the Hyundai Sonata would be my recommendation.  
It seems to be a part of GM's ongoing restructuring and turnaround strategy to look up into the resource and/or drawing board of GMDAT whenever there's a new product launch in the markets outside US - notwithstanding their shortcomings in terms of technology, safety and customer expectations. In India, they have recently launched the 1997-98 Daewoo Matiz as Chevrolet Spark with minor facelifts and expects the Indian customers go gung-ho over it ! Matiz was indeed a successful car at its time but the same cannot be considered/expected after almost a decade, given that there are lots of much better cars available now from the likes of Suzuki and other global makers. In brand-strategy too GM seems to have floundered in India, first dabbling with Opel with a premium image and later with Chevrolet with a value-for-money all Daewoo product line. People are bewildered as to what they are getting - a Korean car with an American name ? No wonder why GM cannot hold it's no. 1 position which it did for last 75 years. And what they seem to be lacking at the time is a ruthlessly integrated global marketing strategy.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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