The missing wagon
History tells us a lot about the buyer behaviour of New Zealanders in the automotive market. I have been noting quite a lot of new Holden Commodores around the place, which is predictable: Kiwis will always love their full-size cars. Hence, even a few weeks after the TV commercials started running, the new-model-year Commodores are reasonably commonplace.
Thanks to ﬂeet sales, even the Daewoo Lacetti, with a Holden Viva badge, is common (in more ways than one), which leads me to wonder just what Holden has by way of the mid-sized segment.
The Vectra has been a very popular car, since General Motors New Zealand (as it then was) introduced it as an Opel in 1989. But Holden continues to sell the original Vectra C, without a facelift. It’s at least a couple of model years old.
The doomsayers are predicting that the Vectra C may be replaced by the Daewoo Tosca, something which I blogged about elsewhere. And this reminds me of when Ford replaced the Taunus—Cortina here, as in Britain—with the Telstar in 1983. And the company then found itself short of a lot of sales, because the traditional Kiwi buyer could not accept the absence of a wagon. Band-Aid time: Ford brought in kits of the Sierra Turnier from the UK and assembled the vehicle here. It couldn’t lose those wagon sales, and by 1987, the single-model Sierra wagon outsold all variants of the Telstar in the opening months of the year.
We are in the same place now. Holden never imported the Vectra C Caravan, leaving its the wagon sales to the Astra G and the Commodore. Therefore, it was a walkover for Ford (Mondeo), Toyota (Avensis) and Nissan (Primera), who actually ﬁelded contenders in that CD segment. When the Astra H came on board, there was still no compact wagon for the Kiwis—that task was left to the Daewoo Lacetti.
It remains a walkover, and with Holden not releasing the new-shape Commodore wagon till well into 2007 (if not 2008), then the marque ﬁnds itself short of appealing cars of this type. The Daewoo Lacetti—on the old Nubira platform—is about as old-tech as you can get here. Ford trounces all over the segment with the Mondeo, a strong seller—and a reminder of how Euro-biased New Zealand buyers can be.
If Holden brings in the Tosca, then there is neither a ﬁve-door hatchback (a popular choice, as sales of Mondeo and Vectra show) nor a wagon. It can expect to see its CD- and D-segment sales diminish. All for greater proﬁts per unit—without calculating just how many units it might sell.
We have seen this picture over and over again: all it takes is a cursory study of the last 25 years, or at least a half-decent memory about consumer preferences in New Zealand.
No one—not even Toyota—can change Kiwi tastes, and somehow, Ford looks far better poised to take some sales’ crowns in the next couple of years versus its arch-rival. Even if Holden has the new Commodore as its halo vehicle, its Korean-sourced Daewoos are letting the side down. It is like the TV networks trying to replace the late Steve Irwin with Bae Yong Jun: a Korean bloke, no matter how many fans he has, can’t say ‘Crikey!’ without it being an insult to the Croc Hunter’s memory.
I can wish and I can wish, but I can’t sit inside a Daewoo and pretend I am Peter Brock. And Pinocchio’s fairy isn’t around to wave her wand.
Holden can update the Vectra C and put the indicator stalk back to where it should be, or watch the middle segment disappear. Tosca will be the latter-day Holden Sunbird.
Del.icio.us tags: Holden Daewoo station wagon estate marketing consumer preferences consumer behaviour cars Posted by Jack Yan, 10:34
Jack, it appears even the "true blue" Holden isn't finding as much favour as it used to:
http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=20803&vf=2 Perhaps fuel economy really matters to Aussies after all. Or they're waiting for runout specials sometime in 2007/08!
I spied another article on the site that implies that the 'Epica' (or whatever it may be called...Camira perhaps?) is a done deal. In the end, these product source changes are going to make it harder for Holden to trade on its name and heritage.
# posted by David Philpott: 10/15/2006 03:04:00 AM
The Daewoo Tosca—or Holden Epica—will be bad news. Its boot is too long and it looks clumsy alongside its predecessor. I suspect what will happen is that Holden New Zealand will import the Vectra Caravan separately to stop sales going to Ford and Toyota, but it will take a while for it to ﬁgure out that that is what needs to happen. And the Holden range will reﬂect that of Ford in the 1980s, with Mazdas down the bottom and the Falcon at the top of the range. I know when I trade the Vectra in, it won’t be for a Daewoo, nor will it be for a Vectra C.Post a Comment
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