February 17, 2020
The iconic Holden brand will disappear from Australian new car showrooms by 2021, General Motors announced on Monday.
The US-based company announced the demise in a media release titled “GM Accelerates Transformation of International Markets”.
GM said it would also close design and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand, spelling the end to hundreds of local jobs which had survived the closure of local manufacturing operations in 2017.
The company now “plans to focus on growth opportunities in specialty vehicle business”.
It also announced the sale of its Thai manufacturing plant to Great Wall Motors and will cease domestic sales of Chevrolet in Thailand by end of this year.
GM said it was “taking decisive action to transform its international operations, building on the comprehensive strategy it laid out in 2015 to strengthen its core business, drive significant cost efficiencies and take action in markets that cannot earn an adequate return for its shareholders”.
“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” GM chair and CEO Mary Barra said.
“We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritising 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.”
GM President Mark Reuss said the company explored a range of options to continue Holden operations, but “none could overcome the challenges of the investments needed for the highly fragmented right-hand-drive market, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment”.
“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,” Mr Reuss said.
“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 prioritise further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry.
“We do believe we have an opportunity to profitably grow the specialty vehicle business and plan to work with our partner to do that.”
The latest decisions follow the announcement in January that GM would sell its Talegaon manufacturing facility in India, and restructure operations in Korea and South America.
GM Senior Vice President and President GM International Steve Kiefer said the “difficult decisions” were “necessary to support our goal to have the GM International region on the pathway to growth and profitability”.
“GM is well-positioned in our GM International core markets: South America, the Middle East and Korea,” he said.
GM assured customers that in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and related export markets, the company would honour all warranties and continue to provide servicing and spare parts.
Local operations will also continue to handle all recall and any safety-related issues, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.
GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said GM was continuing to optimise partnerships in markets such as Uzbekistan.
“In markets where we don’t have significant scale, such as Japan, Russia and Europe, we are pursuing a niche presence by selling profitable, high-end imported vehicles – supported by a lean GM structure,” Mr Blissett said.