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RS 2.0T FWD set to be Holden Commodore best-seller

Spearhead: Holden is tipping the front-drive RS to be its best-selling variant of the new ZB Commodore.

Holden Commodore SV6 successor to be the biggest fish in a smaller pond

6 Feb 2018

HOLDEN expects the sporty spiritual successor to the VFII Commodore SV6 – the RS 2.0-litre turbo front-driver – to be the best-selling version of the all-new imported ZB Commodore.

According to Holden’s executive director of marketing, Mark Harland, the RS’s combination of performance, value and safety will appeal to the same type of fleet as well as private customer who would have chosen the SV6 in the Australian-built predecessor equivalent.

“We’re tipping the 2.0-litre turbo RS liftback to be the top seller in the new Commodore range,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the German-built ZB range near Melbourne this week.

“Many of the fleets have already approached us, and the four-cylinder LT and RS are the right package… and we’ve already seen strong signals for that in the fleet space. I think they’ll do well.”

However, Mr Harland added that he wants to be careful not to have an over-dependence on fleet sales for the newcomer.

“We need to have a nice balance,” he said. “I don’t want to over-rely on fleet and discounted fleet, because that is not good for business… but I do think we will have a good healthy fleet number that is profitable and we need to balance that off with the buyer number.

“But when we get into the RS-V and higher we’re still at some very sharp price points – traditional large-car people… or people who are driving a Toyota Camry or Mazda6 and are looking for a different car with more space and different technologies… I think we’ll pull some private buyers there with the RS-V and upper-spec cars.”

Mr Harland believes one of the greatest volume opportunities lies with the ZB wagon in both front-drive Sportwagon and Tourer V6 AWD.

“I think there’s a growing market with Tourer,” he said, “where Outback has gone and VW has gone with the Passat Alltrack it’s not tens of thousands of units. But there’s a market for people who want a car that performs but they need the functionality of an SUV… in the private market space.

“(So) I think we’ll surprise people because the (Sportwagon and Tourer) percentage there will be higher penetration than people are expecting. (Yes) the liftback will be the majority. (For VF) today it’s around 80 to 90 per cent plus… (but) we’re early days on the Tourer and wagon, so I see it as an opportunity to start to grow these.

“So, a relatively small percentage at the outset but I think it will grow with time. I don’t think we’ll get to 50:50, but if we got to 50:50 and those were all private buyers that would be fantastic.”

As already reported last year, the company is realistic about the imported Commodore’s chances, with Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard, reiterating the smaller volumes expected compared to the VF, which managed just over 23,000 units in 2017.

“The reality is that we will sell less of this product than the outgoing model,” he said. “As we look at our portfolio, we end up with a much more even balance of product, and a much more diversified product for us, whether it is Colorado, Equinox, Commodore, Astra or Trax. So it looks like less than 25,000 units.”

While the ‘buy Australian’ aspect is no longer an incentive for the German-built Commodore, Holden senior manager of product and communications, Mark Flintoft, said that progress in other areas over the previous model should sustain the Commodore’s appeal to fleet buyers.

“We will continue to demonstrate the new Commodore to all the major fleets and expect its improved value, performance, safety and added choice of turbo petrol and diesel availability, to really give it fresh appeal,” he said.

“It’s swings and roundabouts.”

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