On February 17, 2020, General Motors announced that it would start shutting down sales, design, and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand as 2021 marks the end of an era for Holden. While this announcement might be a surprise to some, the writing has been on the wall for some time.
In 2013, Holden announced that it would end production in Australia and start importing vehicles from overseas. General Motors said a strong Australian currency, high manufacturing costs, and a small domestic market were among the reasons behind its decision. In 2017, The company decided to stop the production of it’s a most iconic model, the Holden Commodore. This move alone resulted in nearly 2,900 lost jobs for Holden, according to the BBC.
Holdens’ website states:
“With a heavy heart, Holden announced today that General Motors will be retiring the Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand. This announcement will be felt deeply by the entire Holden family, our customers, and our fans.
We will immediately begin working with our dealer partners across Australia and New Zealand to implement an orderly transition, including support for our existing customers.
Holden will continue to support customers in the following ways:
- Honor all existing warranties and guarantees
- Honor all free scheduled servicing offers
- Ongoing call center support
- Provide servicing and spare parts for at least ten years, through national aftersales networks in Australia and New Zealand
- Recalls or safety-related issues if they arise
GM has taken this difficult decision after an exhaustive analysis of the investment required for Holden to be competitive for the long term in Australia’s and New Zealand’s new car markets. Regrettably, this assessment determined such an investment could not meet GM’s investment thresholds, including delivering an appropriate return.
Factors weighing against further investment in Holden included: the highly fragmented right-hand-drive domestic markets, the economics to support growing the brand and delivering an appropriate return on investment.
More broadly is the issue of scale. The global consolidation of the automotive industry has made it increasingly challenging to support a brand and a business that operates in only two markets, which represent less than one percent of the global industry.
This decision has not been taken lightly, especially considering the iconic status of the Holden brand and the contribution it has made not only to GM but to the development of the economies of Australia and New Zealand.
It impacts all aspects of the Holden business, including the wind-down of the National Sales Company, GM Holden Engineering, GM Design Australia, Holden Financial Services, and Maven Australia.
We are commencing work with our dealer partners on timing to cease sales of new vehicles, as well as transitioning dealerships to authorized service outlets.”
Holden was founded in 1856 as a saddle maker in South Australia. It wasn’t until 1908 that the company started building vehicles. GM swooped in 1931 and purchased the Australian company and continued to build right-hand drive vehicles.