General Motors axes Holden brand in Australia

Holden HSV GTS made its way to the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS

Historic marque retired after more than a century of vehicle production, with 600 job losses expected

The Holden brand will be axed by parent company General Motors by the end of 2021, ending the storied Australian brand’s 164-year history.

The company, founded in Melbourne in 1856, has been owned by GM since 1931, and was for decades dominated the Australian and New Zealand car markets. But Holden’s dominance slipped in recent years, and it began to post heavy losses. In 2017, GM shut down the firm’s Australian manufacturing operations, leaving Holden selling a mix of imported and rebadged Opel and GM machines.

Julian Blissett, GM International Operations’s senior vice-president, said that Holden would be “retired” because GM felt the investment required to make it competitive in the Australian and New Zealand market outweighed the likely return.

“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.

“After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritise the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally. This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team.”

Blissett said GM’s would focus its future growth strategy in Australia and New Zealand on speciality vehicles, working with a number of partners.

GM Holden’s managing director, Kristian Aquilina, pledged to give the brand a ‘dignified and respectful wind-down’ before operations cease in 2021. He added: ““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 fuelling 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.” 

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