Holden will be axed at the end of 2020, ending 72 years of the brand’s automotive association with Australia.
Holden’s global parent company General Motors has decided to retreat from right-hand drive vehicles internationally, informing Holden staff and dealers at midday today.
In 2017 the last Australian made vehicles – the venerable VF Commodore – rolled off the line at Adelaide’s Elizabeth plant.
Currently, Holden imports General Motors vehicles into Australia from its sales headquarters in Port Melbourne.
Holden’s currently has a two-year contract deal with Triple Eight that locks in the ZB Commodore and V8 engine as the company’s Supercars package until the end of 2021.
How this latest development changes that, or if it will at all, is unknown at the moment.
A report from caradvice.com suggested that a General Motors Specialty Vehicles line could be established in Australia to sell converted versions of selected Chevrolet models.
The full statement from GM reads below:
GM Accelerates Transformation of International Markets
Sun, February 16, 2020
GM to cease Holden sales, design and engineering operations by 2021, plans to focus on growth opportunities in specialty vehicle business
GM and Great Wall Motors sign binding term sheet for sale of Thailand manufacturing plant
Chevrolet to cease domestic sales in Thailand by end of 2020
General Motors (NYSE: GM) is 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.
GM announced today that it would wind down sales, design and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand and retire the Holden brand by 2021. The company will focus its strategies for the market on the GM specialty vehicle business. The company also announced that it had signed a binding term sheet with Great Wall Motors to purchase GM’s Rayong vehicle manufacturing facility in Thailand; and would withdraw Chevrolet from the domestic market in Thailand by the end of 2020.
“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing 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,”said Reuss.
“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 prioritize 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,”he concluded.
GM also undertook a detailed analysis of the business case for future production at the Rayong manufacturing facility in Thailand. Low plant utilization and forecast volumes have made continued GM production at the site unsustainable. Without domestic manufacturing, Chevrolet is unable compete in Thailand’s new-vehicle market.
GM Senior Vice President and President GM International Steve Kiefer said these decisions built on the announcement in January that GM would sell its Talegaon manufacturing facility in India; significant restructuring actions implemented in Korea; and investment in and continued optimization of South American operations.
“These are difficult decisions, but they are necessary to support our goal to have the GM International region on the pathway to growth and profitability,”said Kiefer.
“GM is well positioned in our GM International core markets: South America, the Middle East and Korea.”
GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said that as well as implementing plans in international core markets, GM was continuing to optimize partnerships in markets like Uzbekistan, by transferring assets and building strong supply chains to reduce costs in growth markets.
“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,”said Blissett.
“We will continue to implement these critical business strategies, while delivering a dignified and respectful transition in impacted markets.”
In Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and related export markets, customers can be assured that GM will honor 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.
As a result of these actions in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, the company expects to incur net cash charges of approximately $300 million. The company expects to record total cash and non-cash charges of $1.1 billion. These charges will primarily be incurred in the first quarter and continuing through the fourth quarter of 2020. These charges will be considered special for EBIT-adjusted, EPS diluted-adjusted and adjusted automotive free cash flow purposes.
Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements that represent our current judgment about possible future events. In making these statements we rely on assumptions and analysis based on our experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments as well as other factors we consider appropriate under the circumstances. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors, both positive and negative. A list and description of these factors can be found in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or other factors that affect the subject of these statements, except where we are expressly required to do so by law.