Holden will cease to exist by the end of 2020.
General Motors has issued a statement saying it is “taking decisive action to transform its international operations” which will mean an end to the Holden brand as well as its local sales, engineering and design operations.
General Motors has been looking to save money and focus on its domestic market, as well as the lucrative Chinese market – both of which are left-hand drive. GM sold European divisions Opel and Vauxhall to French giant PSA in 2017. It has also begun investing heavily into electrification and autonomous technologies, with General Motors chair and CEO, Mary Barra, recently told investors that these areas would form the core of the company’s future plans.
“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said Barra. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of EVs and AVs.
“While these actions support our global strategy, we understand that they impact people who have contributed so much to our company. We will support our people, our customers and our partners, to ensure an orderly and respectful transition in the impacted markets.”
Sales were down more than 36 per cent for the brand in 2019, which saw it fall to 10th place on the sales charts, well behind the likes of Ford, Kia and Nissan.
Holden’s future has been uncertain since the decision to cut the Commodore and Astra small car – which accounted for almost a quarter of its sales – and part ways with former chairman David Buttner.
The decision hasn’t been taken lightly at GM’s Detroit headquarters, where several former Holden members now have high-ranking positions, including GM President, Mark Reuss, a former Holden chairman and CEO.
“At the highest levels of our company we have the deepest respect for Holden’s heritage and contribution to our company and to the countries of Australia and New Zealand,” said Reuss.
“After considering many possible options – and putting aside our personal desires to accommodate the people and the market – we came to the conclusion that we could not prioritize further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry.”
According to the report Holden Special Vehicles could help maintain a presence for General Motors in the Australian market. The company already converts the Chevrolet Camaro and Silverado pick-ups from left- to right-hand drive in Melbourne, and has long spoken of a desire to expand its portfolio to include other models; including the Tahoe SUV and US-spec Colorado ute.
That could appease long-time Holden and HSV dealers, while also allowing GM to carry through with its plan to sell the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette in Australia. It has already invested in converting the platform to right-hand drive and was expected to sell the car in Australia in 2021.
Holden has a media conference planned for 1:45pm today in Melbourne to explain its decision.