THE game is over. The Holden brand will be retired in Australia and New Zealand and local design and engineering operations will wind down by 2021, parent company General Motors announced today.
GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said GM had taken the difficult decision after implementing and considering numerous options to maintain and turn around Holden operations.
“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.”
GM undertook a detailed analysis of the investment required for Holden to be competitive beyond the current generation of products.
Factors impacting the business case for further investment included the highly fragmented right-hand-drive markets, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment.
“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.
“This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team.”
GM intends to focus its growth strategy in Australia and New Zealand on the specialty vehicles business and plans to immediately work with its partner on developing these plans.
GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina said that given the significance of Holden through its history, it was critical the company worked with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful wind-down.
“We may be winding down a business today, but no one can ever take away the icon,” he said.
“Holden will always have a special place in the development of our countries. As Australia and New Zealand grew, Holden was a part of the engine room fueling that development,” said Aquilina.
“Today’s announcement will be felt deeply by the many people who love Holdens, drive Holdens and feel connected to our company which has been with us for 160 years and is almost ubiquitous in our lives.
“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.
“We understand the impact of this decision on our people, our customers, our dealers and our partners – and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful transition.”
In an official statement, the brand said Holden customers can be assured that the company will honour all warranties and servicing offers made at time of sale.
Holden will provide servicing and spare parts for at least 10 years, through national after sales networks in Australia and New Zealand.
As required, Holden and its after sales network will also continue to handle any recalls or safety-related issues if they arise, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.
Holden will work with its dealer network on appropriate transition arrangements, including offering dealers the opportunity to continue as authorised service outlets to support Holden customers.
Maven and Holden Financial Services operations will also wind down in Australia. Holden has confirmed in a press conference that most staff will leave their roles by the end of June 2020. It has several thousand cars in inventory.
There is potential for General Motors to enter the Australian market in some way, in the future. Holden is however not yet able to confirm what that is, or may be. The future of the right-hand drive Corvette is unknown.