By on November 4, 2013

2013_holden_malibu_australia_03-0612

If you want to see the future of Holden in Australia, this is it. Yes, it’s the same car that Jack Baruth took to the woodshed in today’s edition of TTAC, but it’s also a harbinger of things to come for the iconic Australian marque, with the announcement that Holden’s Elizabeth, Australia plant will be tooling up to produce the first ever front-wheel drive Commodore. And even that looks doubtful.

It hasn’t been a good week for Holden, and news of the Holden Ute’s likely demise was just the first blow. Last week it was announced that Holden boss Mike Devereux will be departing for GM’s Consolidated International Operations in Shanghai.

Devereux’s departure is seen as a serious blow to Holden’s future. The British-born, Canadian-raised veteran of GM was widely seen as the man who could help turn around Holden with a 5-year, the widely-praised, outspoken executive was credited with helping shake up a badly underfunded division of GM that was at once perpetually on the brink of collapse and unable to recognize its own poor financial health. promoted to Vice President of sales, marketing and aftersales at GM’s Consolidated International Operations, which is based in Shanghai and covers more than 100 countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The ongoing uncertainty regarding Holden is creating a political climate where subsidies for Holden and other auto makers (including Toyota) are rapidly becoming unpopular with the public. But that isn’t stopping Holden from forging ahead with retooling its factory in the South Australian town of Elizabeth to build an all-new large sedan, that will be front wheel drive and likely based on the Epsilon II architecture that underpins the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala and other sedans. This new Holden has all but been confirmed to be the new Commodore, and would mark the first time since its introduction in 1978.

While TTAC has been reporting on a possible shift to an FWD Commodore for years, the latest developments appear to be the final blow for the division’s existence as anything but another brand for GM’s global architectures. The line of unique cars and engineering carried out down under will likely die with the VF Commodore, while 2016 will mark the year that the big rear-drive Australian sedans took their last breaths.

All of these developments reflect an overarching and unavoidable theme of today’s automotive industry: consolidation. Despite being the darling of enthusiasts, Holden is losing money hand over fist, particularly with Australian-built, market-specific vehicles built on the Zeta platform, such as the Commodore, Ute and other variants. In a market with 60 brands competing for 1 million sales, unprofitable players like Holden are suffering from shifting consumer tastes (towards crew cab pickups, Japanese compacts and more premium cars), a freer economic market for new vehicles and increased fuel prices.

On the corporate side, Devereux’s move to Shanghai is a reflection of China’s increasing importance in GM’s international operations. It’s possible that as Holden wanes, GM could copy Ford’s move of bringing the once distinct Australia/New Zealand markets under a regional umbrella, with Holden becoming little more than a brand selling Thai-made pickups and Korean made Cruzes. And maybe, if they’re lucky, an Epsilon sedan that is made in Australia, not Korea.

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113 Comments on “Australian Car Industry Dead As Devereux Out, GM Tools Up For Front Drive Commodore...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    They will take the keys of my Holdenized Pontiac G8 GT from my cold dead hands.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      GM has a bright RWD future, but it comes from the US and Canada, not Oz. Hell, you can go and buy a G8 coupe with 320 hp and a 6-speed manual for 22K new right now. Australia is a mineral rich country with the population of Florida, it is shocking cars were ever made there in the first place. Making cars in Austrailia makes as much sense as making cars in Dubai.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Somewhere a sheik says “I’ve got it”.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          The easiest way to end up with a small fortune, start with a large one.

          • 0 avatar
            Jethrow

            Ummm – you do know that when cars were first made here (Aus), the US was a very long way away and importing was not as easy then as it is now. So yes it made a lot of sense. Not shocking at all.

            And whats more it was done very economically back then too.

            And go back to pre 2007 GFC. Holden was doing pretty well thank you. It was almost the only profitable GM division going. It did not get a zillion dollar bail out by the US Fed.

            So the USA, it flushes the world economy down the toilet, and then it complains about Holden having the gall to exist when really it is only the poor economy that has hurt Holden sales. In 2006 people in Aus wanted big RWD sedans and bought heaps of them. Now we have been scared into driving small shitboxes and Holden has suffered.

            It is sad really. The RWD Commodore is the best full size reasonably priced sedan you can buy period.

            So why are you complaining? Enjoy your FWD 4 cyl sedans, I am sure they are loads of fun.

            I will stick with my LS1 powered 285 kW HSV if you don’t mind.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Jethrow, I’ll bet it is taxes and regulations that have killed those beautiful RWD sedans. I keep hearing the UAW folks say how labor is such a small part of the cost of a car, so it can’t be AUS labor costs, can it? It must be tough to get lectured on free trade by a country that subsidizes the sht out of their domestic auto industry on the back of their taxpayers.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @racer-esq,
        After GM and Chrysler went bankrupt in the US same conclusion drawn and production was moved to cheaper countries like Mexico. Strangely they have moved some back, but still have a lot offshore.
        Holden has been making cars here profitably for over 50 yrs , but subsidized imports in the way of tariffs from South East Asia are hard to beat.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Unsurprising, but still extremely lame.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “If you want to see the future of Holden in Australia, this is it. Yes, it’s the same car that Jack Baruth took to the woodshed in today’s edition of TTAC, but it’s also a harbinger of things to come for the iconic Australian marque, with the announcement that Holden’s Elizabeth, Australia plant will be tooling up to produce the first ever front-wheel drive Commodore.”

    Which, I guess, will put Holden into, “Why bother?” territory.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Now if only GM knew how to sell its imported Australian RWD cars properly.

    The GTO and G8 were pretty much failures, and the SS seems like a failure waiting to happen. Why not make a RWD V8 Cadillac again instead?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They were just too expensive to mfg and import, and the model was released just as the economy collapsed then the dollar was sub-sequentially devalued, the exchange rate just killed Australian exports.

      A RWD Commodore kills the sales for XTS and significantly upstages their V series, in addition to being too expensive as previously mentioned. RenCen would love to build all of their models in the cheapest locale and bean-counted to death and then charge you 70K for the privilege of driving their semi-premium Oldsmocadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Of course, I think the XTS not being RWD and not having a V8 option makes it a poor BMW/M-B competitor, but what do I know? The ATS seems like a way better German fighter, while the XTS seems like typical GM platform sharing nonsense. I know the XTS came before the Impala, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the XTS only exists because it shares the Impala platform…

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Bingo. I see XTS as a cheap (for GM to build) replacement for Deville owners. Not all Cadillac buyers want BMWesque, many repeat older folks just want another Deville. If anything it competes with Lincoln MKtaurus and whatever other floaty FWD crap the Japanese will sell you.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Oh, I know, but it sorta kills this whole “Euro-fighter” image when your biggest car is basically just an American Toyota Avalon. Then again, the Escalade was never sold on a Euro-fighter image, but that’s because it has its own dedicated market.

            Then again, since I’m not a car industry guy, I don’t even understand how both the ATS and the CTS compete with the BMW 3 series and M-B C Class.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There’s alot of things about the industry I too simply do not understand. How many tiny RWD I4 sedans are really necessary?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “I don’t even understand how both the ATS and the CTS compete with the BMW 3 series and M-B C Class.”

            With the old C-class, they were trying to split the difference size wise between those cars and the 5-series/E-class. With the smaller ATS and the new larger CTS, the former competes with the cars you mention, and the latter with the 5-series, Lexus GS, and M-B E class.

            And, yes, the XTS is meant to pick up the last vestiges of land-barge customers, but it’s significantly better than the DTS was.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Although I’ll register contempt for XTS’ styling, I haven’t driven or been a passenger in one so I can’t judge whether its better/worse/same compared to a G-body Deville. I would imagine its similar, base model power is similar to the L37 minus two cylinders.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_XTS

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Check one out – it’s a lot better than you’d think. It’s no CTS-V, but the XTS has a lot of strengths – it’s beautifully made, for starters, and the interior is gorgeous. The car feels like money.

            It doesn’t really DRIVE like money, but it’s worlds better than the DTS.

            I see a lot more hope for the brand than despair here. If Caddy can gussy up a LaCrosse this effectively, imagine what they can do with a proper platform and powertrain.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Eventually I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to at least ride in one, if not drive it.

            “If Caddy can gussy up a LaCrosse this effectively, imagine what they can do with a proper platform and powertrain.”

            I agree, despite setbacks GM has always had talented engineers, its just the suits and beancounters get in the way more often than not.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Production costs and exchange rates are not the problem.

        The problem is with the cars. Very few people want them, including the Aussies themselves. Australia is not Germany, the latter of which has high costs but a reputation that helps to sell cars.

        The reduction in import tariffs also plays a role here. With lower importation costs, it’s more effective to just build outside of Australia and import what’s needed.

        For a century, the Aussies used tariffs and other barriers in order to spur domestic assembly and parts production. The country was just large enough to support a local industry when it was propped up.

        But that approach doesn’t work when the import barriers are lowered and market share drops to the point that scale economies are lost. Without barriers, there aren’t many reasons to keep production there.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Agreed on your points.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Pch101
          I do think you should really read what you wrote. It’s pure garbage.

          Cost of labour has everything to do with the cost of manufacture in Australia. I widely known that our labour costs are very high.

          As for taxation and tariffs? Another comment that is incorrect. Just use Wikipedia.

          Australia became a country in 1901. Up into the 1930′s it still operated with individual ‘colonies’ setting out taxation.

          Australia didn’t industrialise until after WWII. It was primarily agricultural, like I stated with the states levying their levels of tax.

          We have successfully wound back since the 1980′s and now are the 3rd most freest economy in the world.

          Losing the auto industry isn’t bad. This will free up money to be spent on worthy project for our future.

          You should see what we do manufacture for the automotive industry. We actually do manufacture some items that no one can or does.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Such as?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Vegemite?

          • 0 avatar
            mr_min

            Big Al, Cost of Labour is a factor, but its not the be all and end all. Toyota can make it successfully in Australia.
            Development amortization, and tooling costs are a far bigger factor, which is why platform sharing is so important.
            Australia industrialize after WWII, thats new , given GM bought Holden in 1931, and Holden were making cars since 1917.

            “You should see what we do manufacture for the automotive industry. We actually do manufacture some items that no one can or does.” – For example?

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “You should see what we do manufacture for the automotive industry. We actually do manufacture some items that no one can or does.”

            Supplier of parts globally (and that has been increasing)as well as some cutting edge manufacturing. Still it does not replace an established car industry.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            mr_min
            Toyota is also talking about winding thing back in Australia.

            http://www.news.com.au/business/companies/australian-toyota-workers-forced-to-take-pay-cuts-as-pressure-mounts/story-fnda1bsz-1226750728803

          • 0 avatar

            speed cameras

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Pch101,
          Same applies to the US, where locally built and imported European/Japanese Luxury vehicles vastly outsell the domestics Lincoln and Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          mr_min

          Pch101, I often nod my head and understand where your coming from. But there is seriously wrong Internet Mem about Holden.
          People still want the cars, just not as many.

          1. Its No.2 in the market in Australia, ie its overall market share is actually pretty good. (Much better than Ford)
          2. Commodore and Cruze are within the top 2 selling cars in the country.
          3. GM money selling cars in Australia (In the 2012 annual report they reported sales of ~3500 million USD. This is similar in size to the UK. Its a lot bigger than Thailand. So this is not a small backwater country.

          The real issue IMHO is two fold:
          - Market fragmentation, GM-Holden has not adapted to a market place with such a massive variety of offer.
          - GM has been sitting on the fence with local engineering and Local Manufacturing.
          - Toyota business model is:
          Create a flexible engineering workforce(a global contract house) (TTC-Au).
          Develop a low volume plant capable of meeting regional customers needs (ie middle east)
          - Ford business model is:
          Stop making cars and invest in a regional engineering.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            During the first nine months of the year, fewer than 20,000 Commodores were delivered in Australia.

            That is far too few units to produce any scale. The only to make that volume profitable is to sell it at luxury car prices, and that simply can’t be done.

            The only way to make a car like that profitable is to move a lot more of them. Theoretically, that would mean exporting them.

            But there isn’t enough global demand to support such a strategy. And if the car was really that hot, then GM would just build it in North America and export it, which would be good for GM but not particularly helpful to Australia.

            The Aussie market only works for domestic producers if the market is protected. With protections, the cars could be sold at higher prices, which would help to make up for the higher costs that come from the lack of scale. (Mind you, that’s not great for the consumer, just for the automakers.)

            Without protections, it makes more sense to just import cars. And at those price points, the current 5% tariff isn’t high enough to make up for the higher costs that come from local low scale production.

          • 0 avatar
            Dsemaj

            “During the first nine months of the year, fewer than 20,000 Commodores were delivered in Australia.”

            That’s pretty lazy comment, and pretty wreckless statistic to throw around. For the first 6 months, there was a model FROM 2006 STILL ON SALE. Elizabeth is running capacity at the moment with the new VF. There’s a waiting list for the SS-V Redline.

            Everyone just needs to hold off and allow a full year of VF sales before calling it an utter failure and disaster.

            Government Assistance for the car industry amounts to a messily $18 per person. When that $500 million or so adds ~$21 billion or so the economy, I’d give it a chance.

            The industry needs to diversify, look at more popular, smaller models, no question about that – we just need to give it a chance. Throwing it off a bridge is not the solution.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @dsmaej
            “Government Assistance for the car industry amounts to a messily $18 per person. When that $500 million or so adds ~$21 billion or so the economy, I’d give it a chance. ”
            As against $261 dollas per person for the US. The Europeans are somewhere in between.
            Yes it needs to diversify and as Bracks said in his report put a lot more emphasis on exporting parts world wide. I remember in more heady days were were making parts for Ferrari’s, Audi’, Mercedes and Corvette(still make it for Corvette), Cost pressures were a real issue.Now a lot of parts are made in the heavily import protected South East Asia,

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Everyone just needs to hold off and allow a full year of VF sales before calling it an utter failure and disaster.”

            The car will be a money loser, no matter what. There will never be enough demand for it to become profitable.

            I see that you are a fanboy, but there aren’t fanboys to make the Commodore profitable. It’s a numbers game — mass produced cars require economies of scale, and the market in Australia is not large enough to deliver those kinds of savings.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          Pch101. Sounds like the US which has some of the highest subsidized Automotive Industry in the World, Higher than the Europeans.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Robert Ryan,
            We don’t have the market size to sustain a motor vehicle manufacturing industry. The vehicle market is globalising. The motorvehicle assembly will be moved out of richer countries into nearby cheaper countries.

            We will still design and engineer, but not assemble. We can’t compete with the cheap workforces and socialised industry of the US, Japan, Europe, let alone even consider Thailand, SA, China, etc.

            The parts manufacturers will still make parts, not as many though.

            If it is so cheap to subsidise the industry why doesn’t the manufacturers cough up the cash?

            I don’t believe the figure being touted as true and accurate.

            Here is the figures for vehicle subsidisation between Australia, US and Germany.

            The US government subsidises each vehicle manufactured in the US nearly $3 000, that each vehicle. In Australia its $1 700 and the Germans $1 300.

            $18 per person doesn’t sound correct.

            http://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-other-countries-subsidise-their-car-industry-more-than-we-do-16308

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Big Al From Oz,
            My first question is how is vehicle manufacturing sustainable in the US? Given your figures and these from the report.
            http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/94F9550B4D44D41CCA257C1900062B46

            “A comparison of assistance given to the car industry by different countries ranks Australia at the bottom, with the industry receiving just $18 for every person on Australia.

            The highest level of assistance found when the comparison was done in 2008 was $334 per person in Sweden.

            The comparison showed that the German car industry received five times the Australian level of assistance, the French industry more than eight times and the US industry almost 15 times the level of assistance seen in Australia”

            “We can’t compete with the cheap workforces and socialised industry of the US, Japan, Europe, let alone even consider Thailand, SA, China, etc.”
            We cannot compete with the heavily protected industries of South East Asia. Japan uses Thailand to build cheap vehicles. Europeans use discounting to get into the market then charge price premiums for the products, because of their “quality” They are not cheap like
            the Thai built Japanese Automobiles. US vehicles are either not suitable, not very good or not built for the market.SA builds some desirable vehicles.
            Governments need to look at these hastily signed FTA’s as they are not FTA’s

            Still we have the problem as the Monash University report has pointed out that we need to tread carefully otherwise too hasty a decision could cause a disaster.

            “If it is so cheap to subsidise the industry why doesn’t the manufacturers cough up the cash?”
            I think they have subsidized the Industry by investing in new machines refits etc which is not cheap. They expect Government to decrease the cost of doing business by getting rid of red tape, something the previous Labor Government, loved creating and not decreasing assistance, which every Auto Manufacturer in the world receives in some for or other.

            As Of yesterday ,Holden is in the process of doing a refit of Adelaide for a new Holden Model.
            http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/EA5DB33A870A70DDCA257C1A000FC799

            As of yesterday. Holen

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Robert Ryan
            The US market is no where’s near viable with the current rates of subsidisation. The only way the US can remain “(un)competitive” is by the hefty protectionist measure and money thrown at all aspects of their industrial complex.

            It’s sort of all tied together, energy (petro industry), agriculture (corn/ethanol), vehicle manufacturing.

            Just agriculture alone receives $800 billion dollar a year subsidy. Then the US manufactures 10 million cars a year with a $3 000 per vehicle subsidy, that alone is another $300 billion a year, add another $85 billion a month or over $1 trillion a year of printed money. This doesn’t include all of the other government services, ie military, etc.

            The GDP is about $16 trillion a year. The figure look ill.

            This is my argument with the Australian industry. If we are to subsidise, then use the money in areas like composite body vehicles. An area where we are one of the world leaders. To build a composite vehicle it would have to be extremely robotic, even Chinese wages would make such a vehicle expensive if it was ‘hand’ made. Australia is a great designer of vehicle chassis’s, import engine and drivetrain tech like we have.

            We have to be innovative and not copy the countries that are going broke. GM and Ford should look at Australia to develop these vehicle for the future, but do they have the money? Not when you look at the amount of government money they receive globally.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The timing of the G8 introduction was beyond bad – smack dab in the middle of the Great Recession, bad exchange rate, high gas prices, and the last gasp of Pontiac. Plus, it’s a RWD car with a big engine, and no AWD option, so the car’s appeal was limited in snowy climates.

      A shame, because this really is a great car…and a first class sleeper.

      The only good news is that it’s a ridiculous bargain used.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        This. It sold OK for being assigned to a dying brand of a bankrupt company in a bad economy. It would have done a lot better if it was released at the time of the GTO as a direct 300C/Charger competitor. Alas, hindsight…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The G8 wasn’t a “failure,” it never had a chance. Released in March of 2008 credit markets froze in September of 2008. Only 13K ’08s were built in a three month production run and were basically sold before they hit the lots. By the time the ’09s arrived you needed to know James Dimon on a personal basis to get a car loan, and GM went under TARP in November of 2008 with rampant speculation of total bankruptcy and liquidation. In May of 2009, just 14 months after the first G8s hit the showroom, Pontiac was dead and production over.

      Amazing you’ve declared the SS a flop when it isn’t even for sale yet.

      Just like the B&B said about the Cruze, Sonic, Spark, Verano, Encore…

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The proper way to sell cars, RWD or otherwise, is to not import them from Australia.

      If you want to be mad at GM be mad that the Camaro plant isn’t stamping out a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        I would be madder when GM really decides to close their Canadian operations and move the whole lot to Mexico. It does not make economic sense to have an engine made here a driveline there. The very real poor performance of the US economy in the last quarter and it certainly is not getting any better in this one,suggests it would be the way to go.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The September election was the nail in the coffin. The Labor party would have probably thrown money at the problem, but the conservative Coalition that took power won’t.

    The new prime minister wants to create an export industry that can support domestic production, but that’s nonsensical, of course. Neither GM nor Toyota have much of a reason to invest heavily in that, when they can just build those exports elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Pch101,
      No he is has two sides fighting in his party, it would appear that he wants to save the industry to help the economy. They are now realizing the “Free Trade Agreements” are not that Free Trade.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Tony Abbott demands car industry boosts exports

        Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott says he wants a long-term future for the Australian car industry, but taxpayer support will come with performance expectations…

        …”There will continue to be a high level of assistance to the motor industry, but we expect the motor industry in return for that high level of assistance to provide us with a reasonable indication of how it is going to increase volumes, ***particularly export volumes***,” he said.

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-17/tony-abbott-demands-car-makers-such-as-holden-boost-exports/4961844
        __________

        That’s a ridiculous plan. Export markets only work when there are other nations that want to import your goods. And most of the world couldn’t care less about uniquely Australian cars, while GM can build the Malibus that it needs elsewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Pch101
          You are correct that the government wants performance improvements if the industry is subsidised.

          I mean if you put your money into an investment fund don’t you expect some form of return? Globally the auto industry (and others) has expected governments to pick up the bill for poor performance. This has to stop.

          The only people who support this type of activity are socialist UAW and maybe some car enthusiasts, oh and rich industrialists.

          So how does the ‘normal’ person benefit? When more and better jobs can be had if the money is better spent?

          The US and Canada are in a similar situation as us in regards to vehicle manufacture or you wouldn’t have all of those stringent barriers protecting your US market.

          The US only has a couple of uniquely American vehicles, ie pickups and some muscle cars (which many are based on the Aussie RWD platform anyway). What is the global demand for these vehicles? Not much.

          If your very protective and expensive vehicle regulations and barriers were removed the US would quickly find itself in the same position as us.

          But the country would have billions of dollars to invest in more fruitful investments.

          Remember, nearly each vehicle manufactured in the US is subsidised nearly $3 000, The Germans are subsidised $1 300 and we in Australia subsidised our vehicle at $1 700 a piece. This has to stop.

          If America keeps on subsidising all of it’s industries it’ll go into debt and go broke.

          I think we are making the correct decision in forcing GM to turn a profit or leave.

          I like Holdens and Fords here. But the reality is the world is globalising and we are just too expensive a country to manufacture lower levels of products.

          TVs, refrigerators, whitegoods, etc manufacture has been offshored. Now cars are becoming just appliances. Most on TTAC are car enthusiasts, most in society just don’t want to walk to work. Like a fridge to keep your beer cold a car means you don’t walk to most.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            We wouldn’t lose car manufacturing even with regulation alignment. Being the second largest car market local production is a necessity.

            We might get some more brands and cheaper foreign cars. That’s about it.

            Fact is for a developed country the us has some cheap labor and i don’t see that changing anytime soon. Otherwise transplants wouldn’t have built plants and the regulations sure aren’t changing that.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAF0 – Basing the Camaro on the Commode was a temporary fix and its (ZETA chassis) days are #’d.

            But US cars and trucks aren’t nearly as protected as you desperately want to believe. US tariffs are weak compared to the rest of the world’s. Except US tariffs have been consistent and the mix of imports vs domestics doesn’t change much.

            Aussie tariffs have only recently come down from close to 60%. So what exactly were you expecting to become of the OZ auto industry?

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Pch101,
          Like the US that cannot export its local Automobile products, but can rely on the exports of transplanted European Builders. Toyota in Australia was a “transplanted” Japanese company that exported Camry’s from Australia.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM
          $3 000 per vehicle.

          One of the highest in the world.

          Na, not much protection.

          Go back to your UAW call centre with the other spin doctors.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAF0 – A subsidy is a little different from a tariff. And you must be talking of GM. But then what exactly are you talking about? Got links?

            But don’t you think Holden would have been liquidated/scrapped along with GM, if it wasn’t for the GM bailout?

            Although when it comes to tariffs, you’ve yet to name a meaningful market as free as the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Again, you have displayed what little you know about the car industry.

            When the GFC struck GMH was on of the more profitable of GMs ventures, GMs little darling.

            GM ripped the money out of Australia to the US to support an ill GM USA. A lot of that money that GMH had was taxpayer subsidised.

            Why should we fork over Australian money for the UAW?

            If GMH isn’t making enough money remove it, so the Australian tax payers aren’t indirectly supporting GM Detroit.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The Holden is a very good vehicle, but not at a cost to the public. We ‘ll leave that to the more ‘industrially socialised’ countries.

    Sooner or later we have had to realise we just can’t compete will the lower cost countries.

    I read an article claiming that all the government has to put in is a couple of hundred million dollars a year to for the industry to reap $21 billion. If that was the case the auto industry would be chipping in that small amount.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Big Al From Oz,
      Considering the losses if they do not, I would think would be the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      What if Australia (and the US for that matter) reduced taxes and the cost of regulatory compliance by that amount? Maybe the government should make do with less.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        That wouldn’t help.

        The problem is that Australia is too small of a market to warrant dedicated production without producer protections to match.

        Without high barriers, it’s more efficient to import from somewhere else that provides economies of scale. Instead of building a few cars there, build a much larger batch somewhere else and distribute them across a wide area.

        It could be different if there was some sort of international craving for Aussie cars, where the point of production provides some sort of prestige or brand appeal. But that isn’t the case — almost nobody cares.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Some completely forget that GM builds RWD based cars for Cadillac in Lansing MI. So the idea that Holden should be a base for all of GM’s RWD ‘spirited’ cars is moot.

    The PPV Caprice is a flop, most agencies simply cannot afford the high price. Unless a version can be spun off the CTS, and built in Lansing, the Caprice is DOA. The other factor is cops now love SUV’s patrol vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Cops loving SUVs vs patrol cars is a bit of a chicken and the egg, IMO. Many cops are big people and irrespective of their size they carry quite a bit of gear. If you build a patrol car for them with obnoxious size/ergonomics (Taurus) or attempt to reconfigure an 80s designed midsize car never intended for patrol duty (W-Impala), you’re probably not going to meet their needs and they will love a truck/SUV simply because its big enough to do the job. I have no information on the Caprice in police use, but from what I see in a friend’s G8, its probably right up their alley but is cost prohibitive. GM making all of the wise fleet moves of late probably should have brought Caprice production stateside long ago and built it as fleet only for the next ten years, which also allows dealers to “wink wink” civilian sales of detective models for the small percentage of the population who would want it. Pity.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The Charger seems to be what the Caprice is, but cheaper and easier to obtain. Your average police force right now probably has a mix of Chargers, SUVs, and old Crown Vics that haven’t been used up yet. Certainly seems like that ’round here.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Around here there are very few Chargers still in use. Yes a lot of depts tried them since they were cheaper to purchase than a Crown Vic but the vast majority of them never purchased any more than that original batch. Most around here that missed the cut off to get more Crown Vics started buying Tahoes. Now that the Caprice is available the state patrol has bought a few, and I’ve seen a couple of sedan and utility interceptors, but the majority of the fleet is still Crown Vics and quite a few Tahoes. The stocked up on the Crown Vic and put them in storage with the last unit not being put into service until Aug 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      SUVs are ideal for license plate readers.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The Caprice PPV isn’t selling because many police departments have a BUILT in America requirement, The PPV is stillborn from the word go.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    No, no, no you fools! It’s a vast cabal of the UAW and the U.S. Government creating artificial trade barriers that favor U.S. domestic producers. The bloody Yanks are too ignorant to adopt UNECE 1353.12.b.11.ee.134. Blathering idiots! They ignore esoteric UN regulations at their peril! Also, wombat marmalade is unfairly taxed at rates for imported marmalade. Really, you all should be driving utes to Wal-Mart. Sarcasm off.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    It would appear the closure of all the Australian car industry, including Toyota that makes the Camry for export is more of a worry for Politicians and economists.
    Forget about FWD Commodores or anything from Ford and GM being sold here. Toyota has escaped that backlash strangely.
    It is estimated a closure would affect Melbourne and Adelaide “disasterously” and shave roughly $25 Billion from the economy, taking 10yrs to recoup.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM insiders have given me an exclusive early rendering.

    http://s22.postimg.org/8hzhksjoh/commodore.jpg

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Bummer. Australia has long had an interesting bizarro enthusiast market that has spawned some unique RWD hardware that has been envied by us North Americans. Lately, aside from the Utes and the Falcon, they haven’t made anything that we haven’t been able to get.

    With the globablization of automobile architechture, no one will be left wanting for RWD products. The new RWD cars just won’t have a VIN with 6 as the first digit.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @FreedMike: Okay, that makes a lot more sense.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The first link is worth a read if you have the time. The second link is about the aftermarket industry in Australia.

    I’m not against manufacturing, but against purposely running an industry at a loss. Why? The taxpayer pays for this. The money is better spent building infrastructure ie, highways, hospitals, anything that aids the country.

    If GM wants to build cars here let them. If they can’t let them go.

    http://www.innovation.gov.au/industry/futuremanufacturing/FMIIC/Documents/TrendsinManufacturingto2020.pdf

    http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/australia-s-automotive-aftermarket-industry-remain

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @28: You mean a 4.9 with direct injection and VVT? Well that would actually be quite fantastic and make the XTS a better DeVille overall…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Just as a bit of whimsy, I was wondering this weekend what Cadillac would have been like if they had stuck with the 4.9L and the Northstar never existed.

      Looking at what GM and Chrysler managed on upgrades to their pushrod V6s, I think 270-290 horsepower was pretty possible out of the 4.9L by about 1997. There would also be the option of adding a supercharger like was done with the 3800. A 320hp supercharged 4.9L Deville DTS probably wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

      The biggest two problems I can think of is that the press would have killed GM for not moving to a DOHC engine and the Oldsmobile engines from that family never would have existed.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’m rather disappointed that the one thing that made Cadillac different from the rest of GM (the Northstar engine) just…died entirely with no successor. Now the XTS is just an Impala with an Art and Science skin.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          DocOlds has some interesting backstory on the pre-bailout plans. Cadillac should have dropped that brand exclusive engine crap after the 4.9 (whenever that should have ended). Consumers no longer cared if Cadillac had some exclusive drivetrain among the GM brands, only an Olds or Chevy customer might have cared and only if the engines were on equal footing. None of the other GM divisions at the time or since have offered a transverse V8, in the mid 90s Cadillac meant only a few things, regal styling, luxury, and V8.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        In such a scenario I imagine Cadillac would not have effectively died and been reborn as what it is if not for Northstar, N* was the end of days for the brand. Branding, marketing, image, sure all variables in play but if you’re spending 40K in 90s dollars on a premium car and its engine starts blowing up right out of warranty its going to affect your next purchase. If a blown 3800 Series II in 1997 could crank out 240bhp, an updated 4.9 with a blower could have done just as well if not better. At the very least it could have maintained the status quo and bought an ailing company time instead of killing what was left of the brand.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    OK I am biased given i am Australian born but it would be such a crying shame to lose the engineers this company has bred. I can understand dropping the manufacturing as Australian wages are outrageous at best, but given the budget they have to work with, the nature of the car (basic family transport), the size of the car and it’s weight …… I have driven NOTHING on this side of the pacific that even comes close in terms of a ride/handling compromise.

    Roads back home are rubbish for the most part, yet the big commodore can absorb the bumps without being floaty and still doesn’t mind being chucked around.

    Can GM not use this talent to help develop new vehicles world wide?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Alfisti
      ” I have driven NOTHING on this side of the pacific that even comes close in terms of a ride/handling compromise.Can GM not use this talent to help develop new vehicles world wide?”
      I would say probably not as they were not that interested when Holden was going well.Now they think a FWD Commodore might work, when a FWD Camry UNLIKE the US has never sold well here.
      e

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    GM in US, circa 1979. History does repeat itself, after all!

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Given they already sell the Malibu in Australia as a Holden, the easy money is betting on slapping a Holden grille on Impala. No different than Ford dropping the Falcon to pair up with the NA Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Lichtronmao,
      You should have added not very well. The malibu is not selling adding to Holden’s problems. Taurus has a similar connotation to Edsel in the US.Previous Taurus models that they attempted to sell here were total disasters.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Oy and the world has a little less variety in it. Sigh…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @28: Well Lexus’s V8 engines are only used in Lexus cars and Toyota/Lexus SUVs, so they’re somewhat exclusive…and even Ford offers an exclusive V6 in the MKTaurus. What does Cadillac have? A…turbocharged version of the same 3.6 V6 GM puts in everything. Yay.

    Funny thing is, the High Feature V6 was originally Cadillac exclusive as well, debuting with the CTS.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m not a Toyota expert but I’m pretty sure Toyota develops all of the drivetrains and Lexus just uses them although I’m prepared to be wrong. Ditto on Ford/Lincoln. Holding stuff back from the plebeian brand is worlds apart from the Chevy vs Pontiac vs Olds vs Buick vs Cadillac engines of old for brand exclusivity.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Anything that helps make X luxury car seem less like Y family car it’s based on certainly helps with the whole luxury image. And yeah, I’m sure Toyota does all the development, but Toyota also chooses to make the V8s exclusive to Lexus cars…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      What are you talking about? The MKS/T uses no engine exclusive to Lincoln. The 3.5L GTDI is the same as the Taurus/Flex/Explorer and is closely related to the 3.5L GTDI in the F150. The 3.7L isn’t exclusive to Lincoln either.

      The power output of the GM 3.6L GTDI looks like it gives up nothing to the Ford version, so where’s the poo pooing coming from?

  • avatar
    Noble713

    Why isn’t the next-gen Commodore built on the Alpha platform? It would essentially be a V8-powered Cadillac ATS but with a low-rent interior. I’d kill for such a car. Now I have to watch the prices of VE or VF Commodores and at the first sign of a rise, import one to Japan before it’s too late.

    Granted, I don’t think the case can be made for economically-sustainable manufacturing in Australia, but the fundamentals of what Holden delivers (RWD V8 hoonage, usually in sedan form) should still be achievable. Keep the engineers and design team and utilize existing North American production lines.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    It is a testament to the quality of the Holden organization that in an isolated location, in a country with a population equal to that of Holland plus Denmark, they have been able to survive for so long.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    All I ever read here from Australians is that teenagers make enough to buy Ferraris, so it would be silly to expect them to bolt GM cars together.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      In a strange way you are right. They are the Generation Next who leave car assembly to migrants from Asia in Australia.
      They are more interested in Electronic toys and being the CEO of a company after working in it for 3 weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @CJinSD
      If you have the correct skill sets come over here and set up a new life.

      By the sounds of it you are quite fascinated by Australia.

      CJinSD, you have to remember with high wages, comes higher costs. You can’t look at the US and assume everywhere on the planet is the same.

      Travel around the world and check it out. You will find most live a similar life.

      The US isn’t that much different, special or unique. I know many think it is.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @BAFO/RobertRyan – I’ve coined a term for the Aussie auto industry/market. I call it the “Galapagos Effect”. Charles Darwin had it correct…

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @DiM
      WFT? Again.

      The US has that effect, then China will be the next.

      We are confronted with the “Chicxulub Event”. What evolved from that? A new clade of endothermic amniotes.

      DiM, you might think your smart, but why do I call you DiM, about as bright as a glow worm.

      Actually Charles Darwin did stop near, believe it or not Darwin.

      Odd that.


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