GM hit-list: Holden just one brand of many killed off by American giant
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Many industry commentators had speculated about how long the Holden brand might survive after it closed the doors of its Elizabeth, South Australia manufacturing plant in October 2017.
The answer has now been delivered with General Motors announcing this week the Holden brand will be "retired" by the end of 2021 and globally GM intends to stop developing right-hand-drive cars and concentrate on the North American and China markets.
Along with the Holden decision affecting Australia and New Zealand, GM also announced plans to sell its Rayong plant in Thailand (where the Colorado and Trailblazer are built) to Great Wall Motors and will withdraw Chevrolet from the Thailand market.
The Holden name joins a hit-list of brands killed by GM. They include Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Hummer along with the start-up (and close-down) Saturn operation and Bedford. Saab was sold off in 2010 and the former GM Europe Opel and Vauxhall brands were sold to the PSA Peugeot Citroen group in 2017.
Holden had previously signalled it would stop selling the PSA-built Astra and ZB Commodore by the end of 2020. This week’s announcement take the Holden Lion badge off the market entirely but leaves the door open to some GM vehicles continuing in the Australia and New Zealand markets.
This is likely to be a speciality vehicles operation selling cars such as the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette which appears to be continuing in right-hand-drive development in spite of GMs future focus on left-hand-drive markets.
There has been interesting contrast in the fortunes for Holden in New Zealand compared to Australia where sales have tanked.
Holden sales fell 28.9 per cent in Australia last year to just over 43,000 units and the brand continued its slide down the sales rankings. Holden was Australia’s sixth ranked brand in 2018 and then fell to 10th position last year.
For Holden New Zealand and its dealer network the sales situation has held up solidly with number four ranking in the 2019 new vehicle market, headed by Toyota and Ford and very close behind Mitsubishi.
Like most mainstream brands in New Zealand the Holden top-seller was a utility with 4747 Colorado sales representing more than a third of its volume and ranking number four in the light commercial segment behind the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi Triton. Holden NZ also sold 1647 ZB Commodores, 1362 Trax, 1213 Equinox and 983 Acadias last year with total registrations of 12,026 units representing about 8 per cent market share.