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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Holden doubles up on Barina

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Holden doubles up on Barina

13 January 2010

By JAMES STANFORD in Detroit

GM’s Spark and Aveo both to fly the Barina flag for Holden in dual range

GM HOLDEN has revealed it will introduce a two-model, two-sized Barina range in Australia, starting with a one-size smaller light car – the Spark – that will be the most affordable model in its range when it arrives late this year.

The South Korean-produced small five-door hatch will be called the Barina Spark in Australia.

A replacement for the Daewoo Matiz under the GM owned GM-DAT operation in Korea, the Spark will be sold alongside a larger Barina model - also a five-door hatch - based on the Australian-designed Aveo RS, which was revealed in concept form at the Detroit motor show this week.

The production version of that vehicle, which is understood to look similar to the show car, is likely to arrive around the middle of next year.

The timing of the two cars was pushed back due to the financial woes of last year, said GM Holden chairman and managing director Alan Batey.

“But for the global financial crisis, every car manufacturer will tell you that, we would have been sitting here with a glass of champagne launching those vehicles,” he said.

“But everyone got delayed. We did as well and we can’t get them fast enough.”

The Barina Spark is a full size smaller than the Barina. It is 240mm shorter than the existing Barina, although the Spark’s 2375mm wheelbase is just 105mm shorter than the Barina’s.

Mr Batey said it made sense to call the Matiz replacement the Barina Spark because of the brand recognition of the Barina.

“We will lunch off the really strong brand recognition we have on the Barina,” he said.

Mr Batey said it was more cost-effective to use the Barina name rather than spend money marketing a new brand.

“One of the challenges in Australia is, introducing more products in Australia is fantastic, but it is a one million vehicle market and launching new nameplates is very expensive, so we want to get as much bang for our bucks as we can.”

Mr Batey said the Barina Spark and Aveo-based Barina would complete Holden's small-car plan they were joined by Holden's locally produced Cruze small car.

“We will have Barina Spark which will be the entry level and then walk up to the Barina. Above that we will have the Cruze,” he said.

In its previous incarnation, the Daewoo Matiz was, at one stage, the cheapest car in Australia.

Mr Batey said no one should expect the new Barina Spark to be overly cheap.

Asked if introducing the Barina Spark would allow Holden to offer something cheaper than the existing Barina, priced at $14,790 for the three-door hatch, Mr Batey said: “Too early to indicate where the pricing will be, but I don’t expect that we will be setting a new basement level.

“With all this new product that you have seen I don’t want to move just on value but also specs, competitive pricing, but it doesn’t mean being the cheapest vehicle in each segment.

“The products that you have seen today are absolutely too good to take that position.”

That said, Mr Batey also said there would need to be a reasonable price difference between the Barina Spark and the larger Barina.

“They will be positioned differently because they are in different segments,” he said.

“We have to position them separately or else all we do is cannibalise ourselves, and that’s no good.”

The Spark, sold as a Chevrolet in overseas markets, is already on sale in some countries including the UK.

Australian models will run a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine producing 60kW and 111Nm, mated with a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission will come, but at least three months later.

The Aveo RS is the work of Holden designer Ondrej Koromhaz and the concept car was built in Melbourne.

Mr Batey said the next-generation Barina would look similar to the Aveo RS concept car, minus the 19-inch alloy wheels.

“It is dynamite,” he said. “I have been watching that thing come to birth and it is fantastic – we are really excited about this.”

The concept car runs a turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine, but there is no indication of which engines will power the production model.

Mr Batey is confident the Barina Spark and next generation Spark will give Holden a new small-car edge.

“We don’t give sales predictions but you would have to think that with that combination you are going to increase market share,” he said.

LINK:

http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/3662220EB7AF3727CA2576AA0002A266

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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