The end of the line for the General Motors Brand in Australia and New Zealand.
After 160 years the iconic Holden nameplate will disappear from dealerships across Australia and New Zealand by the third quarter of 2020. In the wake of this decision announced today by General Motors in the United States, the 1.6 million Holden vehicles owned by Australians will soon become relics of a bygone era.
Dealerships that have been part of the Holden family for generations will either close or find alternative brands with which to populate their forecourts. Maven and Holden Financial Services operations will also wind down in Australia, leaving the door open to new finance companies looking for new business.
The news came as an absolute shock for the Holden workers throughout all States and Territories. While the current executive team of Julian Blissett, GM International Operations Senior Vice President, and GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina stated that motorsport teams under existing contracts would remain supported in the short term for this season, it’s hardly likely the teams themselves will manage to maintain their enthusiasm after being sold out.
For the light commercial market, it’s the end of the line also for the Holden Colorado. Manufactured in Thailand, the lack of any future sales in Australia impacts on the viability of the Thailand GM manufacturing plant, with Julian Blissett confirming that it too will be closing, with the deal confirmed to sell it off to Chinese manufacturer Great Wall.
Showing how the influence of GM in North America has over-ruled any possibility of a rescue package to continue the sale of Holden branded products, there’s still company talk of supporting speciality vehicle options for Chevrolet with the Silverado and Corvette. Their future is dependent on whether a suitable result can be achieved after discussions with HSV and the Walkinshaw organisation, responsible for the right-hand drive conversions and Australian Design Rules approval process.
With ATECO and HSV already running a highly successful re-manufacturing production facility to produce the RAM Trucks product range, one might ask why they should trust GM in its Chevrolet guise when by concentrating on the RAM 1500, 2500 and 3500 models is proving so effective, with order banks stretching out months ahead.
Product support and customer service for the future is something that Holden owners can only hope will eventuate, with Julian Blissett and Kristian Aquilina stating that dealerships, or what remains of service outlets, will continue to service existing models for “at least the next ten years”.
Perhaps for those executives driving around in company leased cars it makes little difference what happens in a decade as they exchange their transport at 40,000 kms intervals for a new model. But for those that have paid out their own money on the expectation of buying spares in 15 years’ time, it’s going to be a game of chance as to the level of support the American parent will provide.
Holden will work with its dealer network on appropriate transition arrangements, including offering dealers the opportunity to continue as authorized service outlets to support Holden customers. Impacted Holden employees will be provided separation packages and employment transition support.