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Holden to kill off Zafira

Zzz: Zafira will be replaced in Europe by new AH Astra-based model.

Holden to discontinue Zafira as current Thai-built model ceases production

20 Jul 2005

HOLDEN is poised to announce the demise of its Zafira mini-people-mover in Australia.

Holden’s executive director of sales and marketing, Ross McKenzie, said this week that the current TT-series Zafira, derived from the superseded TS Astra and built in Thailand, is about to end production.

With General Motors intending to use its Rayong plant in Thailand to increase production of the Rodeo light truck, GM’s Eisenach plant in Germany will become the sole source for Zafira worldwide.

The shift is believed to have made Zafira untenable in an Australian context as it enters its second, bigger, more upmarket and expensive generation based on the AH Astra.

There are also no free-trade concessions with Germany like there are with Thailand.

Mr McKenzie said two vehicles would effectively take Zafira’s place in Australia – the AH Astra station wagon launched this week and the forthcoming four-wheel drive wagon based on the Daewoo S3X concept.

Codenamed C100 and due for release here next year, this South Korean-sourced seven-seat 4WD has what it takes to lure Australians into a people-mover, Mr McKenzie said.

"I think Australians will respond better to its size and price (compared to the Zafira)," he told GoAuto this week.

The Zafira will follow the Mazda Premacy, Kia Carens, Hyundai LaVita and Daewoo Tacuma in departing Australia after car consumers have shown a marked tendency to prefer either 4WDs or larger people-movers – unlike in Europe, where small people carriers have been a massive hit.

Its departure will leave the Renault Scenic and the retro Chrysler PT Cruiser as the remaining mini-MPVs in Australia as companies such as Ford (C-Max), Nissan (Tino), Volkswagen (Touran), Citroen (Picasso) and Honda (FR-V) continue to abstain from entering the uncertain market segment.

Upon Zafira’s release in June 2001, Holden forecast it would shift 1200 units annually and, in fact, it has exceeded that target each year since then.

In 2005, however, its sales for the six months ending 30 June were 422, less than half than for the same time in 2004.

"We’ve found the going very hard," said Mr McKenzie, adding that no matter what Holden did to the price sales never really budged from about 100 units a month.

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