By on October 30, 2013

2010-2011_Holden_VE_II_Ute_(MY11)_SV6_utility_(2011-04-22)_03

2016 will be a pivotal year for Holden’s Commodore-based Ute. Declining sales and shifting production capabilities could mean that the traditional Aussie Ute could become extinct, as both the Commodore and Ford Falcon Utes die off.

While the Falcon is slated to die within the next three years, Holden is at a crossroads regarding the Commodore. Executives from the Australian GM outpost have issued vague statements about a global platform for Australia, which could very well be a front-drive layout – if Holden even sticks around to build cars in its home country.

Ute sales have been decimated by an influx of mid-size pickup trucks built in Thailand, where labor costs are significantly cheaper. Auto makers can also take advantage of a free trade agreement to import Thai-built vehicles with zero duties. By contrast, Australia, where Utes are manufactured, is a much more expensive country to build cars in, and has seen its domestic auto industry nearly wiped out due to cost concerns.

Sales of the redesigned Commodore and its variants are up 15 percent year-to-date, but Ute sales have fallen 31 percent in the same period. While over 100,000 Thai built pickups have been sold so far this year, just 4100 Holden Utes and 3500 Falcon Utes have been sold in 2013. Trucks like the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navarra, Ford Ranger and Holden’s own Colorado dominate Australia’s best-selling vehicle list, with the HiLux selling 40,000 units in 2012 – double that of the Holden Ute’s best year ever in 2004.

A combination of a boom in mining and a desire for a more practical family car has spurred sales of the Thai-built trucks. Unlike the two-seater Utes, the Thai trucks have four doors and two rows of seats as well as four-wheel drive, making them a replacement for station wagons and other utility vehicles.

For all the talk of the Ute being an icon of the Australian motor industry and its supposed desirability among enthusiasts, the cold reality is that nobody wants this car. And until that changes, it is on an inevitable death spiral.

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118 Comments on “Holden Prepares To Euthanize The Ute...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’ve seen three El Caminos in the past week, which may be the most I’ve ever sighted in such a short time period even though I was paying attention when they were still in production.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Sad, sad, sad. I get it, I do. Market demands, buying preferences, cheaper solutions that do it as well. But damn it there is just something so cool about an LS3 powered RWD “CUV” with near 50/50 weight balance and a sport sedan interior.

    We were soooooooo close to getting this in the US, TWICE. Instead we get the Gen II Colorado mid-size – in part due to UAW agreements,

    Argh.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      And mostly in part due to Corporate Board of GM being reactionary old men when it came to the golden goose truck market. Don’t rock that boat by adding something new.

  • avatar
    darkwing

    Somebody please tell me it’s possible to rent one of these in Auckland.

  • avatar
    RS

    UTE’s remind me of the old SNL skit: Is it a desert topping or a floor wax? It’s both!

    Although the UTE Car/Truck hybrids are interesting, they don’t seem to work very well as either when combined.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Exactly right. They’re as good at hauling passengers as a regular-cab pickup. They’re as good at hauling cargo as a station wagon (although slightly more mess-proof). They’re on a platform that’s wildly expensive to build because it was engineered for superb handling, yet they have such screwed-up weight distribution that the superb handling goes out the window. All they do well is look redneck.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        “All they do well is look redneck.”

        Isn’t that enough?

        Of course, when they took out the bench and put in buckets, they eliminated the guy in the middle holding the jug of white lightning. That’s probably why they stopped selling.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Wouldn’t it be profitable though, to slap a Chevy badge on it and ship it over here as the ElCamino? I am CERTAIN they’d sell all of them, even at a premium.

    They could even do a Caballero.

    And uh, bad-assery.

    http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-2008/bc/2008-Chevrolet-El-Camero-Concept-Design-by-Bo-Zolland-Blue-1280×960.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Apparently GM doesn’t see it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      “Wouldn’t it be profitable though, to slap a Chevy badge on it and ship it over here as the ElCamino?”

      Chevy did that in ’03 (although not a Holden, but from the TrailBlazer). It was called the SSR. They sold way, way below expectations and GM euthanized it in ’06.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The SSR was a vehicle that had no point. You couldn’t take the tonneau off and the bed was carpeted, so it sucked as a truck, and it only had 300 horsepower so it wasn’t much of a sports vehicle either. Plus the retractable hardtop was entirely unnecessary.

        If the SSR had instead been a fast car-truck thing that could actually be a truck, it probably would have sold better.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Good idea, but GM NA does not like trying new concepts. The Utes ride and handle better than any Pickup ,with a very useful load. Downside they are more expensive than the cheap and more agricultural Pickups.
      The other factor is Australian are buying SUV’s, CUV’s in instead of larger cars.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    If this thing came over here as the new El Camino, I would probably think that it was really cool and then never actually get around to buying it.

    (Not least of which because they’d have to charge Corvette money for it to break even.)

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Compact car based Utes, like the old VW Caddy/Dodge Rampage, or a number of vehicles currently on the market in Latin America, make a lot of sense. They are very cheap to produce, and with a durable enough twist beam rear suspension most of them can handle at least a ton. I can easily see one being sold in the US for $15K MSRP or less, made in Mexico.

    Taking an expensive to produce rear wheel drive, IRS sedan and making a pickup out of it is a joke. Australia being an expensive to produce in country doesn’t help, but even if Commodore based Utes were being made in a low cost country like Thailand regular pickups would make more sense.

    The Camaro, basically the same as a Ute, starts at $23,555, so that’s about what a base Ute would cost if it was built in Canada instead of Australia (with Australian labor costs and shipping the base UTE would likely cost $30,000+ in the US, even though there is no Chicken Tax with Australia). For $23,590 you can get a Silverado.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Taking an expensive to produce rear wheel drive, IRS sedan and making a pickup out of it is a joke.”

      That aspect of the ute makes perfect sense — build a single platform, then milk that platform for all that it’s worth.

      It stops making sense when nobody wants to buy them, of course.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        They are more expensive than the somewhat more unrefined pickups. Still they do things that Pickups cannot do. If Australians were buying large cars instead of SUV’s, and CUV’s they would still be around.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This comment, in its entirety.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Just to reinforce the point:

      Base Holden VF Ute:
      Price (in Australia, US dollars): $35,079
      Payload Capacity: 1,398 pounds

      Base Chevy Tornado:
      Price (in Mexico, US dollars): $12,853
      Payload Capacity: 1,618 pounds

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you’re going to build a Commodore sedan anyway, then the marginal cost of adding a ute to the lineup is fairly modest.

        But with the lack of scale of Australian production, the Commodore sedan only makes sense if (a) there is a hot export market for Australian-made cars and/or (b) the market has enough import barriers to keep out foreign competition. Point (a) has never been true, and point (b) has changed dramatically.

        If something is popular in Australia, it now makes more sense to build it somewhere else and import it, even if it is subject to the current 5% tariff and luxury car tax.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Does the Tornado do 140mph? No.Would it do the same time around the Top Gear test track as the Ute No.
        Vehicles like the Tornado are very limited in what they can do.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          “Vehicles like the Tornado are very limited in what they can do.”

          Yes, all they can do is carry 220 pounds more than a Holden Ute for almost a third of the price.

          But price and cargo capacity aren’t what matter in a pickup truck. Top speed and lap times are. Or, based on the Ute sales figures, maybe that isn’t the case.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Yes speed and power are very much liked in a Ute as that is part of their image as a performance car, a very acceptable payload goes with the package.. The Tornado is like the other failed similar “load carriers” , unsafe, tiny load, slow and fragile.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            A ute is a terrible performance car: front-heavy weight distribution and no grip in the rear. Top speed may be OK; lap times are not.

            If you want a big performance car, get a sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “A ute is a terrible performance car: front-heavy weight distribution and no grip in the rear. Top speed may be OK; lap times are not.”

            It is a performance car with more than acceptable handing. They are used as Rally Cars here. See the Top Gear episode with a Maloo going around their track, did the same time as a Aston Martin DBR9 ?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @racer-esq
        If the US had a similar product as our ute they wouldn’t cost what you’ve shown. It’s not as simple as a simple conversion of currency.

        A simple V6 Commodore ute would be around $20 000 in the US. We just don’t have people earning $12 an hour building cars or $7.50 an hour. I think 15 year old school kids are on about $12 per hour.

        I saw a Boeing site and the pay they start off with is $10 per hour for a tradesman. No one in Australia would consider turning off the alarm in the morning, let alone working for such little money.

        It’s all relative.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          Read my initial post. You are just repeating my post with regard to local manufacture.

          “The Camaro, basically the same as a Ute, starts at $23,555, so that’s about what a base Ute would cost if it was built in Canada instead of Australia. . .”

          People in Saudi Arabia are also lazy and not willing to work, enjoy it while you still have raw materials China wants.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @racer-esq
            That Tornado would cost over $20 000 in Australia. Maybe you should have stated that.

            A Holden ute comes with a variety of load configurations to over 2 300lbs.

            A Maloo is quicker than a Rousche Mustang. That is including around a race track.

            Sort of like comparing a Impala against a 5 Series.

            As Pch101 stated the platform that Holden has is very versitile, but it’s expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            All I am seeing is a 1,398 pound load rating for the VF Ute. It is so low Holden doesn’t even list it anymore, you have to go to magazine reviews to find it.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            racer-esq,
            “All I am seeing is a 1,398 pound load rating for the VF Ute. It is so low Holden doesn’t even list it anymore, you have to go to magazine reviews to find it.”

            The V6 Omega has a 1800lb Payload, the Ford Cab chassis a 2,700lb one.

    • 0 avatar
      typhoon

      I live in El Paso, so I’ll occasionally see a car driving around that’s sold in Mexico and not the United States. I’ve seen a couple of Chevy Tornados running around; I’ve always thought they were neat. I think it would be a good secondary vehicle for a lot of people, since it’s practical as a commuter but also capable of handling the majority of people’s truck needs (e.g., picking up a dishwasher at Lowe’s or a dresser you found on Craigslist). But I like compact trucks too, for largely the same reasons, so obviously I don’t see things the same way the rest of the market does.

      Anyway, they’re made in Brazil, and their web site pegs it at 165,500 MXN, which is about 12,800 USD. I’m sure the costs of meeting American standards, taxes, and whatnot would make it more than that, but as you said, if they could get it around $15,000 or so, it’d made some kind of sense.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The Tornado and the similar trucks from Ford, VW and Fiat are awesome. The problems with traditional compact trucks are that:

        1) They use a separate platform, and
        2) They use an expensive to build body on frame, rear wheel drive platform.

        Because of that compact trucks end up pricing out almost the same as full size trucks. At that price there isn’t a market.

        On the other hand, the Tornado, etc., just take an existing, inexpensive to build car platform and put a bed on it. As Pch101 keeps pointing out, it’s cheap to add a bed to an existing platform. But doing that with a FWD compact car, instead of an expensive RWD sports sedan, lets the pickup be sold at the correct price point. At ~$15K, and with compact car gas mileage, I see a big market in the US for a compact pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “But doing that with a FWD compact car, instead of an expensive RWD sports sedan, lets the pickup be sold at the correct price point. At ~$15K, and with compact car gas mileage, I see a big market in the US for a compact pickup.”

          I don’t see that, and I doubt that the automakers do, either, otherwise they would be building them.

          In the old days, compact trucks were cheap and cheerful, and relatively fuel efficient compared to the alternatives. But load up a compact truck with horsepower, creature comforts and the ability to perform well in a crash test, and you end up with a higher price and a level of fuel economy that isn’t bad but not particularly compelling.

          Changes in the marketplace have not been kind to this segment, and the trend isn’t likely to change. Compact crossovers show a lot more promise.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Everyone already sells a compact crossover. The issues you describe are with traditional compact trucks. Take any mid-30s combined MPG, made in Mexico b segment car, that meets all US standards, has front and side airbags and ABS, and even has AC and power locks and windows for under 15K, and reinforce the twist beam and add a bed. That’s the proper way to make a compact pickup. And the Tornado shows that kind of truck can carry 1,600 plus pounds – in line with a 150/1500 series truck.

            We are not seeing these now because they are being built in Brazil, not Mexico, so Chicken Tax applies, and because for Ford, GM and Fiat these would cannabalize the sales of 23K plus regular cab 150/1500 basic work trucks, and a pickup does not match VW’s Audi-light US market niche.

            This would be a perfect market for Nissan, which makes the tough as nails, dirt cheap Versa in Mexico, already makes a Dacia pickup on the Versa platform, and does not currently have competitive pickups in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “And the Tornado shows that kind of truck can carry 1,600 plus pounds – in line with a 150/1500 series truck.”

            But they’re small, hence the lack of interest.

            If the automakers believed that it was profitable to sell this sort of thing in the US, then they’d be selling them to us. But there isn’t much demand, and if that demand cannibalizes sales of the full sizers, then there’s even less reason to do it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “has seen its domestic auto industry nearly wiped out due to cost concerns.”

    I would say that it’s more about the expansion of choice.

    When import tariffs were formidably high, Ford and Holden could dominate the market because the import nameplates were too costly. Now that tariffs are less of an issue, there are more options to consider.

    Combine that with higher fuel prices, and the Corolla and Mazda3 become even more appealing. Add to that the bogan (redneck) stigma surrounding the Commodore and Falcon, and it makes switching even easier. What the US went through during the 70s, Australia is experiencing now.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      I agree that the expansion of choice allows for a bit, but it more likely the population boom AussieLand is experiencing that necessitates a five passenger car over a maybe three passenger UTE. Hard to fasten that baby-seat in the console and still have the wife and dog along.

      Coupled with that fact, a UTE generally gets terrible mileage (kilometerage?? never did figure out what its called in Bizarro Metric world), carries and tows far less than a truck, has little to no ground clearance in a country with loads of dirt, and costs more out the door.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Holden and Ford have long offered large family sedans and wagons. Yet since the change in tariff policy, the trend has been moving away from those, and toward crossovers and smaller sedans.

        Average household size in Australia has been on the decline, as has been the case throughout the western world. Household size doesn’t explain the death of the ute.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          Sure it does. The same could have been said of the US in the ’70s-’80s when GM finally accepted there wasn’t a market anymore for the El Camino.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Household sizes in Australia are getting smaller. They don’t need larger cars to accomodate shrinking families.

            The ute is stereotyped as being a car for bogans. That is increasingly seen as a bad thing by a fairly urbanized country that wants to see itself as a sophisticated member of the developed world with tastes to match.

            The Ford-Holden rivalry was a lot like the Ford-Chevy rivalry, and the former is losing appeal for them just as the latter has largely lost its appeal for us. The Aussies are experiencing a lot of the consumer trends that the US has, but with a time delay.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “The ute is stereotyped as being a car for bogans. That is increasingly seen as a bad thing by a fairly urbanized country that wants to see itself as a sophisticated member of the developed world with tastes to match. ”

            No from outside the country you may think that, but Utes are driven by a large selection of people. Including fellows in Armani suits.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “outside the country you may think that”

            Most people outside of Australia don’t give much thought to the place or know what a bogan is. It’s slang that is peculiar to your corner of the world; in the US, we refer to ours as rednecks.

            At least one guy with a .au domain name understands the association between Ford and Holden, and the bogan stereotype:
            ________

            BOGAN (pronunciation boe-gn) is a term used primarily in Australia to describe a particular section of the working class demographic…

            …The bogan usually drives one of two makes of vehicle. Typically this is either a Holden or a Ford. Common bogan variants manufactured by each of these companies include the Holden Commodore (VB-VP models), Holden Kingswood and the Ford Falcon (all models up to the recent EF). Other well known bogan vehicles include early model Datsuns and Toyotas . Bogan accessories include anything HSV/HRT for Holdens, and FPV/FTR for Fords. These vehicles tend to be more prevalent on the roads whilst the V8 supercar races are being held. Drivers often attempt to imitate in heavy traffic their heroes Skaifey (Mark Skaife) and Ambrose (Marcos Ambrose). Bogan vehicles are rarely detailed, and are serviced even less frequently. Most bogan drivers hold animosity towards imported vehicles “farken rice” and are still bitter that the Nissan Skyline beat the Holden and Ford racing teams at Bathurst in the early 90′s. Consequently, many bogans believe their VN Commodore has the ability to beat anything with the badge “Ferrari”, “Nissan”, “BMW M3″ or “Pagani”.

            http://www.bogan.com.au/definition/index.php

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @PCH101,
            More than Rednecks. People other than Bogans also drive Utes. They include a vast number of different types. Just like Pickups in the US are driven by people other than Rednecks ,as that is the stereotype you getfor Pickup owners. .

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You can be as defensive as you like, but the point remains that these vehicles are subject to stereotypes that ensure that many Aussies won’t want them.

            If you want ute sales to increase, then you need to convince more Aussies of their (alleged) virtues. Obviously, that effort isn’t succeeding.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @PCH 101
            Does everyone who drives a Pickup in the US a Redneck? or a Texan? Maybe.You might try to argue that is not the case, but Pickups only make up 11% of the US Automobile fleet, so those demographics make up the bulk of the buyers.

            The Ute depends on the viability of the large car in Australia, if that dies so does it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Does everyone who drives a Pickup in the US a Redneck? or a Texan?”

            Totally irrelevant to this thread. The questions being raised here are why utes are falling out of favor in Australia, and I’m addressing some of those reasons.

            “Pickups only make up 11% of the US Automobile fleet, so those demographics make up the bulk of the buyers.”

            American pickup trucks (which aren’t the subject of this thread) are enormously profitable.

            If Aussies utes could make money for Holden and Ford, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But they aren’t, so we are. You can bury your head in the sand and not grasp why this is happening, or you can open your eyes and understand what is going on in your own backyard. These anti-ute stereotypes are homegrown, and have nothing to do with the United States.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          The much Cheaper Asian Pickups can do the same work at a lot lower price. They are not Utes, they are not in anyway as comfortable, handle as well or as easy unloading or loading. That is the Tradeoff, cheapness and a much cruder vehicle versus a more expensive much more refined in some cases capable vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Athos Nobile

            ^^^ THIS

            When a Hilux Workmate is nearly 10K cheaper (or 15K if you buy Chinese) you realize the locals are toast.

            I for instance think a Falcon ute with a tray makes for a terrific inner city work vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          @Pch101

          My curbside observations say that big cars are increasingly being replaced by SUV/CUVs. Or those Thai built things. The other end of the story is (as you said) small cars, with a Cruze being similar in size to an early Commodore.

          Typical family in my neck of the woods would have 2-3 kids. Enough to fill the back seat of a Falcodore.

          @dolorean: What population boom are you talking about?

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Athos Nobile
            “My curbside observations say that big cars are increasingly being replaced by SUV/CUVs. Or those Thai built things”

            Correct and people buy the SUV’s and those Thai thingy’s as they think they are safer which they are not.
            Meanwhile large cars plummet (including Utes)because their tastes have changed.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Athos Noble
            Australia is currently experiencing an increased level of population growth. We have an increase of over 1 million every 5 years.

            I think the figure is 1.8% per year. This is quite high considering Australia has 23 million people.

            If the US had the same rate of growth it’s population would be growing at an annual rate of over 30 million in 5 years or nearly the population of Canada.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan


          American pickup trucks (which aren’t the subject of this thread) are enormously profitable.”

          So are Luxury sedans, but they like US pickups only make a small percentage of vehicles sold in the US.

          Utes depend on large cars to survive, they make a fair bit of money on everyone sold, but as large cars are falling so are Utes goes with the territory.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Holden is a money loser. It loses money on local production, and needs subsidies in order to build in Australia.

            If you read your local newspapers, then you should already know this. The losses are not exactly a secret.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @PCH101,
            “Holden is a money loser. It loses money on local production, and needs subsidies in order to build in Australia.

            If you read your local newspapers, then you should already know this. The losses are not exactly a secret.”

            It is far from a secret. The very unfavourable dollar pushed up by US and Japanese buying of bonds is really hurting Australian exports and increases costs of production. If the US and Japan had relatively strong economies instead of weak ones, Holden and a lot of Australian manufacturing would be better off.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The dollar really has nothing to do with it.

            Now that tariffs are lower, you are getting crushed by superior competition. When you had 50%+ tariffs and government-managed badge engineering, you guys had no idea what you were missing.

            The parallels to what happened to Detroit during the 1970s are uncanny, except that the US never had tariffs or import restrictions like yours.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            You are really talking through your ass.

            Our vehicle market has been open for 30 years. You talk as if you are an expert, but you always misuse information.

            What government regulated vehicles do we have?

            50%+ tariffs? I think you dumbass spin doctor.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          PCH101,
          “The dollar really has nothing to do with it.

          Now that tariffs are lower, you are getting crushed by superior competition. When you had 50%+ tariffs and government-managed badge engineering, you guys had no idea what you were missing.”

          Our “Trading Partners” have 50% tariffs against imported Automobiles. try selling an imported Automobile in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand . Government has been foolish in dropping tariffs to others who do not reciprocate, Yes te high dollar is not helping
          “Badge Engineering” what?? That was a US thing done a lot in the 1970′s.
          “except that the US never had tariffs or import restrictions like yours.”
          Oh yes it did..where are you getting your information from??? heard of a thing called chicken tax!!(Oh No I mentioned it)

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The US has never had high tariffs as you have.

            The US has never had anything similar to the Button car plan. The US government didn’t force competing automakers to badge engineer cars with one another, but your government did.

            As has been discussed to death, the chicken tax doesn’t keep much of anything out of the US. If you understood how it worked, then you’d stop repeating yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @PcH 101,
            The Button Plan rationalized the Australian car industry nothing to do with “badge engineering” Do not know where you got that one from.
            The Chicken Tax is a draconian tariff imposed by the US on imported Automobiles, you may be under the false impression it is not. You may argue irrationally it is not that is your call, but no none is going to believe you.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Robert Ryan
            I have debated Pch101, he is very similar to DenverMike. He’s quite easy to prove wrong and he uses the same techniques of not providing credible, current and valid data or information to support his argument.

            Ask him to provide a link to justify his ridiculous comments, he can’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @dolorean
        Our road infrastructure is comparable to the US. We might even have more ‘kilometerage’ of prepared and surfaced roads per person :-)

        You are correct though, Holden and Ford utes can’t go 4x4ing.

        As for the FE, well they are better than full size trucks, they run the same engines in a much lighter more aerodynamic package.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          Having lived and workied with the rabble you all call a Defense Force (lovely fellas and ladies; sank a lot of piss while in Egypt), I have been regaled with the stories of purple and acid green Holden Malloo’s and Ford Falcon Utes and their particular Bogan status. I very much would like to sample on, perhaps a Perth to Brissie run while on holiday.

  • avatar
    prndlol

    Always hated it – kill it with urine.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It’s sad to see the demise of Holden and Ford in Australia. But if you can’t compete, well there’s not much that can be done and better more viable products are available, this is what happens, evolution of an industry.

    True free market economies can be harsh, but they are more resilient.

    Australia started winding back protectionism 30 years ago and this has caused the gradual decline in the viability of locally produced vehicles.

    The upside to this is we have over 60 vehicle brands available, more than the US and we only have 23 million people. The downside is we are losing our vehicle industry, but it will be replaced with better industry that is more high tech creating better future jobs.

    Australia did go through a similar experience as the US during the fuel crisis, except we didn’t have fuel rationing. Holden developed a small 6/V8 Commodore and Ford took a gamble and built the much larger XD Falcon. Four cylinder Asian cars increased sales significantly.

    If the US adopted a similar approach to its vehicle industry it will head down a similar path and saving the nation trillions of handout dollars. Maybe not as severe since it has a much larger market, but those Thai midsizers will give the protected full size market a shakeup.

    I own a Mazda Thai diesel midsizer, they are great versatile products, over 30mpg on the highway, can tow 7 800lbs and fantastic off road attributes.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      We said the same of our Muscle and Pony Cars of the ’60s, and to the point, of the El Camino and for a while, Ford El Ranchero Utes. For a while these former rock stars were in decline, stuck in a rehab against the backdrop of the baby-boomers having kids of their own and wanting a car that didn’t kill their checkbook at the fuel pump and could fit kids and groceries to and from, without painful oragami ingress/egress.

      But they never lost that lust they had for the cars they were too young or too poor to own and years later, when the kids were off finally to univeristy or to the Methadone Clinic for the fifth go, they jumped on the chance to own their own Mustangs, Cobras, ‘Cudas, and El Caminos. They found them in barns and backyards and spent the kids inheritance by third mortgaging the house to restore these gems back to life; riding with the signature arm, now flabby, on the sill, wind whipping through the comb-overs and pretending they were cool once. Nostalgia’s a wonderful marketing tool.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      “Thai midsizers will give the protected full size market a shakeup”

      Nope, seriously. FE wise yes, and you could sort that out fitting a proper TD V6 to the yanks. The US trucks would totally hand the midsizers their a$$ in style, power, towing, features and quite possibly comfort.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Oh sh*t Athos, you’ve gone and poked the hornet’s nest.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Al refuses to accept the idea that American full size truck buyers are happy with their trucks.

        Al ignores anything that disproves his thesis, such as the fact that Chrysler and Toyota both eliminated their midsize trucks due to lack of demand.

        If there was a massive demand for midsize trucks in the US, then Toyota would be building them. Instead, Toyota discontinued its midsize offering and replaced it with a full size truck. Perhaps Al thinks that he knows more about the US market than Toyota does, but I’m not willing to give him that much credit.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Pch101
          I’m not a mid or full size advocate.

          I believe that government in OECD economies have to pull back. That means industry will have to compete.

          Full size pickups are the most protected product in the US motor vehicle industry.

          If midsizers in the US had the same amount of protection, I would be speaking against those measures.

          This really isn’t about pickups but my correct paradigms vs your incorrect paradigms.

          I have proof to support my views. What have you got? America/Europe/Japananese huge debts.

          What do you do for a living? Do you work for some NGO with no concept on business and profit? A civil servant?

          I know you talk like a school teacher.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Athos Nobile
        I do agree the full size trucks are great. But your comment is akin to stating that Mustangs and muscle cars will rule and small efficient cars can’t. Sort of uneducated and thought out.

        Not much substance in your comment.

        Style? Well I suppose you are a US or Canadian in real life Athos :-)

        @thelaine
        I’m not a full or midsize advocate. I’m a believer in free trade, their is a difference.

        Athos’s (DiM) view would be how can the Chinese ever compete?

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          I’m neither a gringo nor a Canuck. I grew up in the US’ old petrol station in South America, now conquered by the Cuban “empire”.

          The Americans are starting to raise the game in their trucks FE wise… see what Chrysler is doing, 1500 diesel RAM anyone?

          “Athos’s (DiM) view would be how can the Chinese ever compete?”

          The Chinese are coming (educated in part down here). Read about that little QOROS OEM and you will see why and how. See what they’re doing in the 3rd world cars and trucks wise. Real eye opener.

          @delaine, you’re going soft mate. You should be pouring more petrol here instead of telling me to hold back.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “The Americans are starting to raise the game in their trucks FE wise… see what Chrysler is doing, 1500 diesel RAM anyone?”

            That could be a real game changer for US pickups.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        “The US trucks would totally hand the midsizers their a$$ in style, power, towing, features and quite possibly comfort.”
        After being in a brand new F250 several months ago.Style..No, Power Yes, Towing ability debatable , Comfort No, Steering No, Extra gizmo’s Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Comment from BAF0: “If midsizers in the US had the same amount of protection, I would be speaking against those measures.”

      US Midsizers have the same exact “protection”. It does them no good. The US just isn’t a large scale buyer of midsizers. Never has been. I mean not counting the ’80s cut-rate mini-truck craze/fad/explosion. And not counting fleet buyers and other cheapskates that love them. Why do you think Mitsu, Mazda and Isuzu ran from the US, screaming???

      And US fullsizers, Titan and Tundra especially, are protected from what? Who else has fullsizers to import? Are you really thinking import midsizers would attract the fullsizer buyer?

      Comment from BAF0: “I own a Mazda Thai diesel midsizer, they are great versatile products, over 30mpg on the highway…”

      You’re not getting anything near a 30mpg average. That’s not the way we measure MPG. And we have something called “STOP” signs. And traffic signals. And traffic.

      Comment from BAF0: “… (it) can tow 7 800lbs and fantastic off road attributes.”

      We have realistic SAE payload and tow ratings. You have whatever the OEM feels like rating their trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @DiM
        So, WTF again?

        What’s your point?

        Is you penis bigger than mine? Or, is it tiny?

        Is that you angle?

        Your comment doesn’t have much to do with mine.

        I was discussing the variation between our two markets.

        Has a lot to do with towing? WTF?

        It seems you are deflecting an argument again.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAF0 – Answer the questions and save the d!ck jokes for your next Small Pickup Mafia meeting. I hear Lou has resigned and same with Jeff. But was that a cameo appearance from Rob R?????????

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            My view is if they can’t build competitively in Australia, then don’t.

            The same view I hold in regards to the US. Don’t use taxpayers money to support an industry. If the US does this they might end up with a large debt.

            It’s not about size. You and Pch101 try and roll these debates into the world vs the US. The world isn’t against the US.

            This is a very strong indicator that you two guys don’t have a strong argument. You are trying to instill emotion. That is you will use the anti American theme or small truck argument.

            I have never put down your trucks or am I an advocate for ‘small trucks’. I do like all trucks, from Kei to Roadtrains.

            But I’m a diesel over gas fan.

            You distort your information to the point of pure misinformation.

            I will pull you two up when this occurs.

            If you don’t have an argument that is sincere and you can’t use integrity, then say geez, Big Al your are correct.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – US full-sizer trucks have nothing to do with the bailouts. They’re obscenely profitable.

          The US largely rejects smaller trucks, but size has little or nothing to do with it. No, it you that wants to make this about “size”.

          No one is saying ‘it’s the world against the US’. Just a few key bloggers, clearly with a chip on their shoulder from around the globe, all taking shots at the US with everything from false info to wives tales.

          When you ask them for proof, all they can offer is d!ck jokes. Or they simply scamper off.

          And I am a huge fan of small trucks, as are most truck loving Americans. I’ve owned a few of them, but never would I consider a new one. Too many things I’d rather buy new. I mean besides full-size trucks. That’s one of the problems small truck OEMs are faced with, at least in the US. There’s no need to get emotional about it. Just is.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Bummer, I was really hoping the G8 ST plan was gonna make it through back in 2008/2009. The whole demise of Pontiac thing killed those hopes unfortunately.

    Still, as mentioned above already, the added cost to export them here should be relatively marginal as they already do so with the Caprice. C’mon GM, give us some of that El Camino goodness.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I would love to have one of these. Guess the fact that I dumped the single cab pickup that I really liked and bought an SUV with the same towing capacity makes me one of the phonies.

    I really want one of these utes. Just not bad enough to buy one.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I knew a guy who cut off the back end of a VW bug and turned it into a very useful stake bed truck. He also converted a squareback into a nifty mini-pickup. Let’s get together and see what we can do to an old Cobalt or Focus.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Run a Holden against the go-fast versions of F-150s, Silverados, and Rams. Toyota and Nissan can observe how the big boys play. Hooning Hogans running up vast Kilometerage. Tests gentlemen, tests; not 4000 you tube videos of someones favorite truck, ute, whatever. Now I want a beer, or a pint, or a jar, or an oilcan.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @el Scotto,
      Go fast F150′s and Rams are contradiction in terms, they are slower, do not steer very well and have as much or less payload than a ute.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Uh, not exactly: http://www.f150hub.com/svt/lightning.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram_SRT-10. Not easy to find but they are out there. Would I use those two or a ute as work truck? No.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @elscotto,
          Both the Lightening and SRT-10 are useless except for going fast in a straight line. Sports utes are used for work, business liasions, rallying , taking a Motorbike, Waterski in the back.
          Common Holden Utes have a up to 1800lb Payload. The Falcon cab Chassis 2,700lb.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Toyota used to build a version of the Tacoma that was quicker around a road course than a 350Z. It was pretty silly and had a small market, but it wasn’t as silly as these things were.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @CJinSD,
      Why is it ‘silly” a US Pickup is “silly ” to a European, most Australians and New Zealanders think US Pickups are “silly” for a different reason. I guess “silliness” is relative.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Ignorance is not a virtue. I think your utes are silly and so do buyers. That’s why there are virtually none. US pickups sell by the cubic ton. Live with it. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if there weren’t a jillion LCD buyers of UAW pickups. They drive in the far left lane at speeds that better men parallel park, at least in So Cal. None the less, there are millions of such thimble-****s that get financing every year. Just to rub it in a bit, Car and Driver recently did a comparison test of such garbage. Once they threw the Hemi Ram on the scales, they discovered that its curb weight subtracted from its GVWR left it with a payload of 801 lbs. That’s not a typo. That’s a 5,999 lb pickup with the capacity of a compact sedan. Sure, it had a claimed towing capability of thousands of pounds, but good luck sticking a trailer with an appropriate tongue weight on the hitch while carrying two passengers. Fiat probably sold more trucks with those specs while I was typing this than Oz consumed utes all year.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          CjinSD
          “That’s a 5,999 lb pickup with the capacity of a compact sedan. Sure, it had a claimed towing capability of thousands of pounds, but good luck sticking a trailer with an appropriate tongue weight on the hitch while carrying two passengers. Fiat probably sold more trucks with those specs while I was typing this than Oz consumed utes all year.”

          That is what attracts the derision here. They are your “Ute”, it matters little to us or the Europeans, Asians or anyone else outside NA, how many you sell or to whom. That is your “scene” everyone outside NA has their own priorities and that is about it.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I’m laughing because your compatriot Big Al from South Park likes to proclaim that your child laborers make more than our engineers, yet we have a several million unit annual market for ornamental $50K pickup trucks while you can’t sustain demand for chopped taxicabs. Something doesn’t add up.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            He is right about the pay rate. A little research brings that out.

            But, from my research cost of living is probably much the same to ours. Houses, and apartments are expensive to rent, and buy.

            Cars are more expensive. Example the mid sizers hit $50k.

            Fuel prices are also more expensive ($5.30 / gallon). We even see this here as fuel prices have risen so has the sales of more fuel efficient vehicles.

            I think it all works out in the end. But, you do end up with better healthcare, and better retirement, and more vacation time when your working.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Onus and CjinSD
            There’s a reason why Australia has the 2nd highest standard of living in the world.

            Manufacturing in Australia is increasing across certain segments, like robotic production, medicine more so than in other countries.

            Our income is very high in comparison to the US. But it comes at a cost like Onus stated.

            Many still consider manufacturing a ‘high’ capability. But its the type of manufacturing. Is fabric manufacturing high tech? No.

            Automotive manufacturing is heading down that track as well. Australia just can’t compete in low tech manufacturing like automobiles.

            Why should we subsidise the industry? All that does is reduce everyone’s standard of living.

            It’s great to be nostalgic and romantic, but business is business. If you don’t run your country correctly they can go bankrupt like a home or any industry.

            Like a home there is only so many handouts you can give your kids or you will go broke.

            @CjinSD, there are some who don’t realise that the US isn’t the best at everything. Size doesn’t matter, what does is the quality.

            We do earn fantastic incomes, our economy has been increasing above 3% (in real terms) for over 20 years now.

            This started in the 70s, when both sides of politics stuck to a common goal of improving the country.

            In the late 70s and 80s when the changes started our standard of living dropped down significantly into 20th position(?).

            This is what the Eurozone/US/Japanese have to do. But it appears you guys are fighting and are polarised more than we ever were regarding these changes.

            Restructure or go broke.

            Whilst you fight internally, you will not make the changes and become truly post industrial societies.

            Corporate handouts and protectionism is killing modern economies, not social welfare.

            Look at where the changes need to occur, it will scare many. But they are necessary.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @CJinSD – You have to not keep adding doors, equipment, accessories and offroad capabilities if you want decent payload. Prioritize. Do you want payload or 100 MPH thru Baja in pure luxury?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            How far can you drive before you need fuel?

            Works well in the Outback, you might get 150 miles in front, but I’ll need to stop and refuel you :-)

            Like I stated you have a penis issue.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAF0 – You’re obviously on the wrong website, as much as you keep bringing up Penis. But having a 34 gallon tank and equal or greater MPG than midsizers does give me outstanding range. Good point, BAF0!

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    This is the end of Holden as a manufacturer of indigenous designed cars. When the Commodore dies, and it will, it will take the rest of the industry with it. Toyota’s local supplies won’t be able to survive with just one buyer, and, as everybody points out, it’s just too expensive to manufacture in Australia goods that can be built elsewhere a lot cheaper. When this happens Holden will be left building the Cruze from fully imported parts. The will not be a second line building the next gen Commodore replacement. In fact I cannot see the Holden assembly line surviving the Cruze. Holden will join every other manufacturer to become an importer. So the 2017 line up will be Barina, Cruze, Malibu, Captiva, Colorado 7, Caprice from China or Cadillac, Camaro/Corvette. Mini Cruze, Big Cruze, AWD Cruze. People carrying truck, Chinese built stretch Commodore or a Cadillac. Son of Commodore (Camaro) or Corvette.

    Enjoy, Australia you have just been homogenised!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @pacificPom2,
      Unfortunately Holden will join Ford as “dead brands”. History is unkind, as former manufacturers who folded had about 10% of their market share when they came back as importers. John Buttons plan rationalized the Industry and made it more competitive and had a healthy export plan in operation ,but that is gone now.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        It’s like Germany. Expensive country to build cars in. But, they do it and they do it well. They have made a name for themselves one that people willingly buy the product even though it is more expensive.

        Problem is your auto industry was run by Americans and lost their chance. They struggled to adapt to a changing market here at home and abroad. Even in Europe where they had much larger market share at a point, likewise at home.

        Being a importer will probably help there bottom line. Sure they might not sell much but if they make a profit on every car sold whats the matter? At least that is ford strategy these days and a good one at that.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Onus
          Here is a good piece to read. It shows the US/Euro/Japanese might be in the future when your wages and conditions get to where we are in Australia.

          It’s just a waste of money subsidising an industry, whether it’s pickups or Commodore utes. This money can be better spent to aid a country’s progress rather than propping up uncompetitive jobs.

          http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/11/1/manufacturing/stop-spinning-auto-sectors-wheel-misfortune

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Big Al from Oz,
            I will have to disagree about this.The Automotive industry uses a lot of technologies that are produced locally. Parts suppliers who are doing well overseas have honed their products on local production. Pretty hard to be a parts supplier for an Automotive industry, if their is no Industry. Think of the one you are in.
            The Chinese have been heavily subsidized and like South East Asian Countries charge imported vehicles exorbitant tariffs. Just like the US, if you want to sell in China you have to build there.
            As well countries like China are dictatorships and the priorities of a dictatorship distort normal economic convention.
            It was good to see newly elected PM Abbott, follow security advice and block the offshoot of the Chinese military Huwaei bidding for the NBN program.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Robert Ryan
            Australia will not lose engineering and design. I would rather become a design centre than a manufacturing centre.

            We need to have the best and highest skilled jobs, not the lowest skilled jobs of the future.

            Look at our mining, because our wages are so high, up to 1/4 million dollars we are using more and more robotics in the mines, from the ore trains to the huge dump trucks now. But we need technicians/engineers to maintain these new systems that the world doesn’t have yet. That’s our future.

            Australia leads in logistics, bulk equipment engineering, energy.

            This is where Australia has lately been one of the leading forces globally.

            For our size we are contributing lots to design, engineering, pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, space tech, aerospace, electronics, etc.

            This will improve our education system, our wealth, etc. Leave manufacturing to the countries that are more suited to this.

            Look at design now, it’s all computer based. You can be designer working out of Singapore for GM and send your work to Detroit.

            Baby boomers are more inclined to be ‘manufactured’ idealists because our fathers worked their lives in this area.

            The loss of vehicle manufacturing isn’t the end of engineering or design in Australia.

            We have to look at fully automated manufacturing. This will keep us in the forefront of technology, engineering, etc.

            Car assembly and manufacture has to be left to low cost cheap countries. We are nowhere’s near low cost and subsidising the auto industry is almost akin the subsidising fabric weavers and potters.

            Use the subsidisation money for ventures that will keep us in front and secure our futures. Investing (subsidising) so we can compete against China and Thailand doesn’t sound logical, we should leave that to the US, Japan and Europeans.

            http://www.alp.org.au/cm14_290813

            http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/20452/Productivity1.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            Athos Nobile

            Al, your theory sounds nice, but it has a blind spot: not everyone wants or has the skills to participate in that kind of economy.

            So my question is, what do you do out of that people?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Athos Noble
            We will still have highly paid workers that are needed to do the more mundane tasks. If that floats your boat.

            The manufacturing sector only makes up a small percentage of our economy, even in worker numbers. 12% or our economy is manufacturing and the vehicle manufacturing sector is tiny.

            The affected people would be a very tiny percentage, if any at all. I mean how many people are upset because we don’t make candle sticks? What are we going to do with them?

            The same goes for the refrigerator assembly workers in Orange. I feel sorry for them, but China, Korea, Thailand, etc can make refrigerators very cheaply, like LCD TVs. If they want to make refrigerators desperately they can go to one of those countries.

            A career as an assembly line worker I don’t think is that appealing.

            So a person who really wants to work on an assembly line putting tyres on a car. He can get a job at Bob Janes.

            These people who want assembly line careers ultimately can emigrate to a country that pays less to work in the vehicle assembly industry.

            Or just work for a dealership as a globally highly paid mechanic or car detailer.

            Athos, you brought a non issue in to the argument. What happened to all of the jobs from 200 to 300 years ago? What are we going to offer the people who want to work in those ‘olden’ industries?

            You have to change, or end up like the US, Europe or Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Robert Ryan
            I didn’t respond to the aspect of my job you mentioned. It is getting off shored slowly.

            Maintenance in aviation is becoming outsourced, not engineering. This is inevitable, aircraft are highly mobile. This doesn’t worry me.

            If you look at the amount of jobs that evolve around the motor vehicle you would be amazed to find that most aren’t in the manufacturing sector.

            Look at the construction industry, road, bridges, carports, garages, carparks and on and on. Petrol stations? Mechanics? Widnow tinting, panel beater, insurance and insurance assessors, Old Man Emu, ARB, TJM?

            These automotive industries are more profitable and supports many small mum and dad businesses and industry. They provide many more jobs than Holden, Toyota and Ford.

            The same can be said for the aviation industry. As we talk about several thousand jobs going in our motor vehicle industry Melbourne airport alone is looking for three thousands workers.

            The world is in a transition, we had better grab this change by the balls while we have the collateral to do so, not waste the money competing with $3 000 a year Chinese and Thai workers.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Agreed Big Al. You can go Euro big-government subsidized stagnation and decline, which is what the US has chosen, or you can embrace the future and adapt. There is no economic nirvana. Paradise on earth does not exist, but the Euro route is the route to bankruptcy and the US is in train. Now it is managing its decline, just like Europe. Australia has apparently chosen another path. If so, well done and may others with wisdom follow your example.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Problem is your auto industry was run by Americans and lost their chance.”

          Toyota and Mitsubishi are American? Funny, I learn something new everyday.

          The problem was that the entire Aussie market was built on protectionism. Without an export orientation, that approach is doomed to fail when the protections are reduced.

          Lower tariffs are killing the industry because it now makes more sense to import than it does to build locally. Production volumes locally are too low to scale, and the world isn’t clamoring for Australian cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            You really should hit the books. Your comment I would have expected from a numptie.

            Australia wasn’t built on protectionism.

            Protectionism was trialled heavily for a 20 or so year period after WWII.

            What protected Australia back then was its isolation from Europe/US and Japan didn’t even matter. Australia had extremely close links to the Empire, the UK.

            Everything in Australia was almost imported. We relied heavily on agricultural exports until after WWII.

            You had better get off your ass a travel around the world and see what goes on.

            Australia has managed to always keep one step in front. I would like to see us get two steps in front.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            There’s a huge market for American cars?

            Your heavily protected and subsidised full size pickup market has huge global potential?

            What about your muscle cars and even Caddies?

            Tell me what are the most successful cars in the US that aren’t protected?

            Are they global platforms?

            You really are what we call in Australia very ‘One Eyed’.

            People like yourself, DiM/Mikey, DocOlds, etc are destroying what America once represented.

            You guys are the protectors of a new form of politics, I’m going to term it ‘American Socialism’ the ‘anti-progressive political party.

            Almost sounds like the UAW’s anthem.

            Sounds worse than ‘Chinese Capitalism’, Commrade.


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