After 160 years of operation in this country, the Holden brand will officially be dead “by 2021” according to General Motors.
The world is upside down today with the news that General Motors will kill off Holden by 2021; in addition, Maven (car sharing) and Holden Financial Services will also cease. The writing had been on the wall with the decision to kill off local production of the Commodore. But Holden didn’t move with the times and when it did, no-one wanted what it offered. It’s a sad day with Holden dead in Australia and New Zealand with production in Thailand also ending with the GM factory in that country being sold to Great Wall.
The sale of the Rayong factory in Thailand is the one of most interest to four-wheel drivers given it’s where both the Colorado and Trailblazer are produced. In its press conference today, GM claimed the factory had been under-utilised for years; it’s worth noting the Colorado and Trailblazer are currently Holden’s best-selling vehicles.
GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said the decision to kill Holden had been taken after the brand had made attempts to turn things around. Hmmm.
“Through its proud 160-year history, Holden has not only made cars, it has been a powerful driver of the industrialization and advancement of Australia and New Zealand,” said Blissett.
“Over recent years, as the industry underwent significant change globally and locally, we implemented a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business, together with the local team.”
According to General Motors the business case for keeping Holden going no longer made any sense. That involves, according to GM, “the highly fragmented right-hand drive markets, the economics to support growing the brand” and more. “After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritize the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally,” said Blissett.
GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina said, “Unfortunately, all the hard work and talent of the Holden family, the support of our parent company GM and the passion of our loyal supporters have not been enough to overcome our challenges.
With the killing of Holden, GM’s retreat from Australia, New Zealand and Thailand signals the last right-hand drive markets the brand services. Over the last few years it had pulled away from countries like South Africa and had sold off Opel to PSA allowing it to retreat from Europe and the UK. Of the 800 employees in Australia it’s understood that 600 will be offered redundancies with the remaining 200 retained to service warranties and service commitments; these staff will likely be the ones liaising with Holden dealerships as they transition to the proposed General Motors Speciality Vehicles brand name which will be carried on by Walkinshaw which was once known as Holden Speciality Vehicles. That brand currently imports and converts the Chevrolet Silverado and Camaro.