Home-grown Alpine Motors takes over from Eurokars Group
Opel appoints Alpine Motors as new agent

OPEL, the least popular German car brand here, has appointed a new agent in the hope of reversing its fortunes.

Home-grown Alpine Motors, the Chevrolet dealer here, was picked yesterday to manage the franchise, taking over from the Eurokars Group.

It has also taken over the dealership for Opel's commercial vehicles, previously handled by Isuzu dealer Triangle Auto. It will operate its Opel dealership out of a Kampong Ubi facility.

Alpine managing director Albert Pang has set up a subsidiary, Auto Germany, to run the Opel business, which will be located across from the Chevrolet showroom.

He said Alpine paid close to $20 million for the building, and will spend another $5 million to re-establish Opel here.

The brand could do with a boost: Sales dwindled from 1,003 in 2000 to 89 cars last year.

Only 61 Opels were sold in the first 10 months of this year - a fraction of the sales posted by other German brands.

In that time, buyers snapped up 4,009 BMWs, 3,495 Mercedes-Benzes, 2,643 Volkswagens, 1,677 Audis and 536 Porsches.

Eurokars said it has lost $12 million since 2002, when it took over the brand from ST Kinetics.

Mr Antonio Zara, the vice-president of sales, marketing and after- sales for GM South-East Asia, said General Motors, Opel's parent firm, was fully committed to growing the Opel brand here.

'Due to the ever-changing business environment, we are always taking steps... to ensure long-term sustainability - globally, regionally and locally.'

In the Opel family are its executive sedan Insignia and hatchback Astra. New models to be launched soon include the Astra Tourer, Astra GTC, and the Combo and Vivaro vans.

Mr Pang said: 'Our immediate target is to sell about 30 cars a month, and build it up to 50 to 60 in a year.'

He said new prices for Opel models will be more competitive than those of brands such as Volkswagen and Alfa Romeo.

There are about 1,800 Opel cars and 3,700 commercial vehicles here.