About the new Corsa, what sparked the decision to launch it with such a limited line-up? Are there any plans to introduce a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine and maybe a 1.7-litre turbodiesel to supplement the existing range and the upcoming OPC model?
It is the opinion of some that the Astra suffered a similar fate and was therefore not given a fair chance to compete in what has become a very competitive segment. Also, the introduction of the latest Corsa has left a gaping hole in the pricing of entry-level models at the bottom end of the segment, which should make it even harder for those wishing to upgrade from the Corsa Lite to new Corsa.
And are there any plans to upgrade the Corsa Utility range - cosmetically, new or additional engines - following the introduction of the new Corsa hatch?
The new Opel Corsa is powered by the latest generation engines from Europe where the balance between power, emissions and cost are optimally mixed.
From the available range of Opel models and engines, GMSA decided to introduce the new range with the 1,4 petrol, 1,6 turbo petrol and the 1,3 CDTI diesel engines in a mix of trim levels.
These decisions are not taken arbitrarily; they are the result of considerable market research, vehicle segmentation and are taken with the aid of a sophisticated computer model.
The level of acceptance and sales of the new range tend to suggest we have got the initial balance right. We will continue to keep an eye on demand by talking to our dealers and customers and if demand changes, we will react to it.
Our popular Corsa Lite model continues to find favour amongst South Africans from student vehicles, new vehicle entrants, second family cars and even runabouts for senior citizens.
The new Corsa encapsulates the latest generation technology engines, safety, styling, comfort and the like. The reality is that these things come at a price when compared to older generation vehicles. The all new Corsa continues to offer value compared to its recently launched nearest facing competition!
The Corsa Utility does not change for now and retains the current vehicle line-up. Interestingly, the Corsa Ute has been SA's favourite small bakkie for more than 3 straight years, proof of a winning formula that customers love.
Why do we have such a limited variety of Opel models in South Africa? Why isn't there a larger passenger vehicle, Vectra perhaps, above the Astra in your line-up? Is the good-looking Opel GT a consideration for the South African market? And what about the Antara for the local market? Also, how soon before Easytronic is offered on cars available here?
We evaluate overseas products for local introduction on an on-going basis. We have looked at the Vectra on numerous occasions for local suitability but believe that the investment required for local introduction would not be recouped considering where this car would have to be positioned within the very competitive and established medium car segment.
The Opel GT is only produced in left hand drive guise at this stage and as such would not be able to be imported locally.
EasyTronic is Opel's clutchless manual transmission and was never intended as a fully automatic gearbox. Our experience with the Meriva EasyTronic, which was available locally for more than 12 months, was that customers did not find value in the extra cost of this option compared to the manual transmission.
The decision to launch the current Astra in the hatchback derivative only was initially met with some concern. Do you, in hindsight, feel that you've alienated people who would traditionally purchase in this segment? And since the current Astra is still considered good value for money in its segment, will you be bolstering its presence with a sedan version?
We source most of our Opel product from Europe and are obliged to follow their design direction. At the time that the new Astra was launched, a sedan version was not available.
While several readers were thrilled with the service experienced at some of your dealers, several other readers commented that they would have bought an Opel had their initial reception at a dealership been better. What is GMSA doing to ensure a consistently good customer experience at the dealer level in particular? Does a multi-brand setup not "split the focus" of what would be a dedicated sales and servicing environment? Many readers lamented poor servicing situations too, ranging from inaccurate diagnoses to unresolved faults and general apathy. What is being done to remedy this?
Customers rightfully demand and expect excellence in all aspects of their vehicle ownership experience. Not only should the quality of their vehicles be above question but all interactions between us should be professional, convenient and cost effective.
To this end, GM has embarked on a world wide campaign of customer service excellence called the GM Difference which relies on each GM employee truly understanding customer requirements and fulfilling them.
Realistically, we are not yet where we need to be but we are making considerable strides forward and continue to receive encouraging feedback from our customers in this regard.
Our cars and bakkies are improving in quality too - the latest independent quality studies show our products to be top of class in several segments. We are proud of the improvements we have made and will continue to improve as our customers deserve the very best.
What is happening with the marketing of Opel products in South Africa? Surely the product deserves better? Is it a case of Opel not being taken seriously enough within the GMSA organisation?
Opel has a long and proud history in South Africa - wouldn't it be good to exploit this in it marketing campaigns? Opel's image in South Africa is dire, when compared with the response it receives in Europe, for example, where it has several top sellers and market segment leaders. Does this cooling towards Opel from the general public not concern you and is anything being done to fix it?
Opel sells over 3 500 units routinely each month in South Africa. We also have an extended product range on sale in South Africa offering the public vast choice when choosing a vehicle. Opel owners would not agree that their car or the Opel brand has a "dire" image! Customer feedback shows us they love their cars - reason enough, we think, to be put on a few more shopping lists!
Opel appears to have lost a great deal of credibility with its performance enthusiasts, with some even calling the brand bland. Would participating in a local racing series not help to remedy this? Why is Opel not represented in this manner?
Also, will there ever be a true spiritual successor to the Superboss and not just the "watered down offerings" enthusiasts are currently being exposed to?
Why does GMSA not offer aftermarket software upgrades for its performance cars? Can't it offer approved parts and upgrades, via a third party, that would not necessarily jeopardise warranties and service plans? And, on upgrades, when will satellite navigation and other integrated communication tools be offered on models like Astra and Zafira?
It is perhaps true that some of the Opel product we brought to market in the late 1990s did not offer the same raw performance customers were used to from the "old" Kadett era. The truth is that these engines offered a pretty good mix of power and emission controls in a much refined and better quality package.
The good news is that since then we have rolled out the OPC range of performance vehicles across Astra and Zafira lines. The Corsa OPC is about to join the line-up offering enthusiasts an opportunity to experience a more affordable OPC. OPC models are true performance cars for enthusiasts - uncompromising excitement.