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Holden Caprice aims further upmarket

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Holden Caprice aims further upmarket

Toby Hagon, drive.com.au, 05/09/07

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Visiting General Motors group vice president and general manager of GM Asia-Pacific, Nick Reilly, confirmed Holden is considering adding more upmarket features usually reserved for limousines from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus. Those cars are typically two or three times the price of the $70,990 flagship Holden Caprice.

Referring to the Buick Park Avenue version of the Caprice that’s sold in China, Reilly says Holden could easily adapt the gadgets and upmarket technology to its locally-produced vehicles.

“While [the Caprice] is a very spacious car, some of the features that the Chinese want in the back seat are not standard in Australia,” says Reilly. “In the future that’s something Holden can pick up and put in a higher [specification] model.”

Speaking ahead of his visit to this week’s APEC conference in Sydney, Reilly says there are opportunities for Holden.

Holden has already developed a raft of features for export versions of its largest sedan, which is sold in China and Korea.

The features typically focus on the rear of the car, where most chauffeured passengers will spend most of their time.

They include vibrating/massaging rear seats, heated rear seats, trays that fold out of the front seats and extensive controls to entertainment and ventilation systems to give the rear seat passenger more control over the comfort features of the vehicle. The rear seats can also recline.

Combined with the rear DVD screens, extensive rear leg room and plush leather trim the Holden flagship under consideration will in some ways rival far more fancied – and expensive – luxury fare.

“One of the things we did … which will be beneficial for Holden in the future, there are some [extra] features in the back seat [of the Buick Park Avenue],” says Reilly. “People in China are almost universally chauffeur driven, whereas Holden historically has been very focused on the driver and the driving experience.”

Holden now all but owns the more affordable ($60,000 to $70,000) limousine market in Australia with its Statesman and Caprice models.

Earlier in 2007 Ford announced it would drop the rival Fairlane and LTD models from its range due to disappointing sales.

While Chrysler has made some impact with its boldly-styled 300C sedan, its sales have been tempered slightly by the arrival of the new Statesman/Caprice.

Now that Holden has such a strong presence in the market dominated by hire car companies and politicians, it can work on offering more tailored vehicles.

Holden also has more room to move with pricing. When the current Statesman/Caprice arrived late in 2006 Holden slashed thousands of dollars off the price while adding more equipment. So it could be argued that potential Holden customers are used to paying $80,000 or $90,000 for a Holden.



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