Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

EXCLUSIVE: Opel considering return to Australia if EV charging infrastructure and incentives improve


With a completely new model line-up crammed with electrification, the Opel brand is poised to launch in EV-ready New Zealand. But will Australia follow suit?

After being purchased by France’s PSA Group (PeugeotCitroen) from General Motors in 2017, then transitioning into the huge Stellantis conglomerate in 2021, German brand Opel has completely reinvented itself with a high-design model line-up offering electrification on virtually every model.

And from late July, Opel will re-enter the Asia-Pacific region via New Zealand – predominantly due to our sister country’s progressive approach towards EV ownership, charging infrastructure and rebates encouraging the take-up of zero-emission vehicles. 

Compared to the Opel range that was sold briefly in Australia under GM ownership in 2012, it’s a radically new model line-up underpinned by cutting-edge design and peppered with a few familiar nameplates – think Astra among others – all using fresh PSA architectures and technology.

Opel Mokka e 2021 green dirt path
The Opel Mokka e could be one of the cars coming to Australia

But will this renewed Asia-Pacific focus result in Opel products once again being sold in the Australian market?

Will Opel re-launch in Australia?

Speaking to Chasing Cars at the Jeep Grand Cherokee L launch, Stellantis’s senior vice president Asia-Pacific region Billy Hayes was confident that Opel’s push into New Zealand is an intelligent move, yet he also left the door open for a potential re-entry into Australia at some point in the future.

“It’s in the conversation right now, especially with the electrified versions of [Opel] vehicles,” said Mr Hayes. “And you saw we just launched Opel in New Zealand, which is completely right for Opel given the Clean Car Rebate program that exists there, and then next year it’s going to also introduce a program for the manufacturers.

Opel Grandland 2022 static 3/4 view
The Opel Grandland is one of four models to be launched in NZ under the brand

“So we thought that New Zealand was right for [Opel]. And at the appropriate time, we’ll pull the trigger [on Opel in Australia], if it makes sense,” he said.

As for the imminent launch of an EV charging network at Ampol service stations across the country, and the potential introduction of an electric-vehicle subsidy to make them more affordable (depending on who wins this month’s election), Mr Hayes said “these are all positive signs.” And if they come to fruition, “then we re-evaluate [our position on introducing Opel to Australia].”

“The nice thing about Stellantis is we’ve got this line-up of vehicles to pull from. So every time there’s a new vehicle, we’re like ‘Okay, well is this appropriate? Will the market support it in Australia? Will the market support it in Japan? Will the market support it in Korea? So we’re constantly looking at the portfolio saying ‘where’s our opportunities?’ because we have tonnes of room to grow.

Opel Astra 2022 yellow by the sea
The 2022 Opel Astra is also included as one of the cars sold in New Zealand

“It’s an exciting time in Stellantis world. Our goal is to be the front runners in EV technology and lead the way. We’re not following – we’re leading at the moment,” he said.

What Opel models will be offered in New Zealand?

Launching under the tag line “we are modern German, less formal, more electric” from late July, Opel will initially offer four models in New Zealand – the Corsa light hatch, Mokka small SUV, Astra small hatch and Grandland medium SUV.

These will be followed in due course by the Crossland compact SUV and Combo Life seven-seat van, as well as the Combo Cargo, Vivaro and Movano vans.

Opel Crossland 2022 red front 3/4
Opel offers a small SUV called the Crossland which could be sold here in Australia

All three vans will only be available with fully-electric powertrains – complemented by electric versions of the Corsa and Mokka, and plug-in hybrid versions of the Astra and Grandland. Opel NZ will also offer traditional powertrains in the Corsa, Mokka, Astra and Grandland, plus the petrol-only Crossland.

From July/August, Opel will enter New Zealand with six dealerships across the country, expanding to 11 in 2023 as an all-electric version of the Astra joins the line-up.

What is the electric range of Opel’s EV models?

Led by the stylish Corsa-e with up to 337km of WLTP range, followed by the even sexier Mokka-e (322km), these small electric Opels can go from zero to 80 percent charge in 30 minutes using a 100kW DC fast-charger.

Opel Astra 2022 yellow seaside town
We have seen the Astra in Australia before but not looking as good as this!

The 165kW Astra plug-in hybrid is capable of up to 69km of WLTP electric-only range, while the front-drive 165kW Grandland SUV equivalent can manage 63km. The Grandland Hybrid will also be available in a 221kW all-wheel-drive version.

What is Opel’s history in Australia?

Purchased by General Motors in 1931, the first Opel-derived product to be sold in Australia was the Vauxhall Viva in 1964, which shared some of its engineering with the Opel Kadett A.

This was followed by the Holden HB Torana in 1967 (derived from the Opel Kadett B), the Holden TX Gemini in 1975 (part of tGM’s world-car program that produced the 1973 Opel Kadett C), and the iconic Holden VB Commodore of 1978 that was very closely align to Opel’s Rekord/Commodore/Senator large sedan.

Opel Grandland 2022 driving shot
The German brand Opel has plenty of history both overseas and here in Australia

Other Opel-derived or shared models included the Holden Camira (Opel Ascona), Holden Astra (Opel Astra), Holden Calibra (Opel Calibra), Holden SB-XC Barina (Opel Corsa), Holden Tigra (Opel Tigra), Holden Cascada (Opel Cascada) and Holden Combo (Opel Combo).

In 2012, GM launched Opel as a stand-alone brand in Australia, to be sold alongside GM-owned Holden, though this sales strategy ended a year later.