General Motors Co. plans to launch its Opel premium European brand in Australia in 2012.

Adam Opel GmbH CEO Nick Reilly and GM Holden Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux announced the export program to Australian media at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week

Opel’s Australian portfolio will include the new-generation Insignia, award-winning Astra and recently upgraded Corsa. The complete model lineup and dealer network will be announced closer to launch.

Devereux says Opel nameplates such as the Astra enjoyed a long and popular history in Australia.

“Opel will be sold as a standalone brand in Australia for the first time in 2012, but Australian drivers have a strong affinity with Opel vehicles (such as the) Astra, which were previously sold under the Holden brand,” he is quoted as saying in a GM Holden statement.

Opel presents a new opportunity for GM in Australia to meet a growing demand for German design and technology at affordable prices, Devereux says. “We look forward to supporting our sister brand establish itself as a strong competitor in the growing premium European segment.”

Reilly says Australia plays a key role in the Opel’s international strategy and is one of three new export markets, in addition to Israel and Chile, announced in recent weeks.

“Australia is one of the most important new opportunities as we continue to reposition Opel as a global European brand in markets such as the Middle East, Asia/Pacific and South America,” he says in the statement.

Reilly says interest from the Australian media, as well as consumers, is encouraging.