General Motors is spinning the move as a “transformation of international markets.”
General Motors announced on Sunday that its Australian brand Holden will be killed off this year. As part of the closure, the Lang Lang proving grounds, engineering, and design operations in Australia will be shuttered. Estimates are that these closures will cost General Motors $1 billion USD. In return, GM is looking to ramp up operations in Thailand where labor costs are lower.
Holden has been making cars in Australia since 1948. Formerly, it was a symbol of national pride. Some Americans might not know that at one point Australians had quite the appetite for performance and Holden obliged by making quite a few epic muscle cars. We have Holden to thank for the short-lived Chevrolet SS Sedan, a favorite of ours, which was a rebadged Holden Commodore.
However, GM shut down manufacturing in Australia about three years ago. That means current Holden Commodores are made primarily in Germany using Opel facilities, plus a few other countries. This move also neutered the performance car by axing the V8 engine from the lineup.
This means any Holdens imported to North America will become that much more sought-after since there’s zero chance of more being made. In other words, if you’ve had your eye on one, now might be the time to pull the trigger. In Australia and New Zealand, spare parts for vehicles will be stocked for at least the next 10 years, according to GM.
While sad, it’s not unexpected news, considering sales have been sliding for some time. Holden has essentially become yet another GM badge-engineered brand, with Chevroletsand GMCs wearing the Holden badge. However, this move is a blow to the Australian economy, with 800 engineering, design, dealership, and other positions being axed.
In conjunction with the closure of Holden, General Motors has also announced it plans to wind down production of right-hand-drive vehicles globally, essentially stepping out of several markets. However, partner company HSV will still be converting Chevrolets to right-hand-drive configurations for the Australian market. It currently offers the Chevy Camaro, Chevy Silverado, and a few others.