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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 1st 2010
6--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 1, 2010 Holden rising star Cruzing along The rising star in the GM-Holden ranks could become the company s best seller. Neil McDonald takes a look at the Cruze STRONG SELLER: Holden says buyers will decide the sales race between Commodore and Cruze. NEW GM-Holden chair- man and managing direc- tor Mike Devereux says the chance of the Cruze small car knocking off the Commo- dore as the nation's best-seller will be decided by buyers. ''It really comes down to consumer preferences,'' he says. ''You have to follow what people want. ''People want great style, value and quality and fuel efficiency is obvi- ously becoming important. ''Our SIDI engines in Commodore are critical to that and we've got ethanol Commodores coming. ''But Cruze versus Commodore --- that's going to be up to the market- place.'' In recent years the Commodore sedan has often been beaten by the Toyota Corolla in the monthly sales race. By contrast, the Korean-built ver- sion of the Cruze has been a strong seller since its introduction last June with the company regularly selling more than 2000 a month. Devereux says Holden is on track to launch the locally-built four-cylinder Cruze early next year. Since then it has consistently outsold the Epica. The Cruze is currently imported from Korea but GM-Holden is on track to start local production early next year. Apart from the sedan, it is well advanced with a hatch version to compete in the hotly contested small car segment, which is traditionally a strong hatch market. However, Devereux is not too wor- ried about the Cruze ending the Commodore's 14-year reign as the country's best selling car. ''If folks want to buy more Cruzes than Commodores then I guess that's okay but it will be up to the marketplace,'' he says. Last month, Holden sold 2125 Cruzes, about half the number of Commo- dores retailed. The Commodore still remains overwhelmingly the most popular Holden. So far this year 11,364 Commodores have been sold versus 6418 Cruzes. Clue to model update HOLDEN has given its first clue of the timing of its Commodore update. The company last week announced plans to suspend production of the car for two weeks in July and August to run out the current model and make way for a refreshed Commodore. Apart from engine tweaks and an E85 model, the Commodore is settogetanew interior. Call to relaunch Pulsar gains speed POPULAR: Nissan is currently considering whether bringing Pulsars back onto the Aussie market is a viable option . THE respected Pulsar name could return on the rump of Nissan's next-generation small car due in 2012. The company is keen to recap- ture some of the magic lost when the Pulsar name was unceremon- iously dumped four years ago with the arrival of the Tiida. The Pulsar name had been in use locally for more than 25 years. Nissan Australia managing di- rector, Dan Thompson, is now prepared to dust off the name and give it a new lease of life. ''If, come Tiida replacement, we elect to launch with the Pulsar name, we will launch with the Pulsar name,'' Thompson, says. However, Thompson cautions that ''it's a couple of years between now and launch''. ''When we get to the right stage we'll do all the research to ensure that the equity in the Pulsar name is aligned with the product that we plan to launch,'' he says. He says that although there is still equity in the name today, that may not be the case in the future. ''There was equity a year ago when we had the discussion but whether it's there in two years time remains to be seen,'' he says. Thompson agrees there is plenty of goodwill among Pulsar owners because there is such a huge carpark of older cars. ''But fast forward a few years . . . and those numbers are starting to dwindle,'' he says. Changing the name is something Thompson can do ''if we so desire''. But he warns that the question remains whether the next- generation small car matches the brand equity of the Pulsar name. When the Tiida was launched in 2006 Nissan Australia had no choice but to drop the Pulsar name and adopt a global strategy orches- trated by Nissan Japan. However, in the US the car was called the Versa. The original Pulsar, which ar- rived here in 1981, was credited with saving Nissan locally and subsequently launching a sub- $20,000 price fight that secured strong sales. Pulsar sales soared in the early days of the sub-$20,000 contest but as newer, lower-cost entrants from South Korea arrived it was over- whelmed. The Tiida benefits from zero import duties but sales have never reached the Pulsar highs. NEIL McDONALD Nissan seeks price support THE Leaf hatch could be the country s cheapest electric car when it goes on sale in 2012. But Nissan boss Dan Thompson says without some level of government support Australian buyers could be forced to pay more than Japan or US buyers. We ve just announced pricing in Japan and the US and they re both around the mid- $30,000s, and then with government incentives it s about $US25,000, Thompson says. It s too early to talk about local pricing for Leaf but what you ve seen in Japan and the US is very much aligned with global positioning and strategy for the car. Nissan Australia has signed memorandums of understandings with the Australian Capital Territory, and New South Wales and Victorian governments to explore how best to adopt EV cars. He also is keen to get federal support.
April 24th 2010
May 8th 2010