In the span of 24 hours, Australia inked two free trade agreements with both Japan and South Korea. Even though Holden, Ford and Toyota had already committed to ending auto manufacturing in Australia, it’s hard not to see the agreements as the last nail in the coffin of Australia’s once strong auto industry.
As Chevrolet slowly exits from the European market while Holden exits the production line altogether, General Motors is mulling over increasing exports to Australia out of South Korea.
Though the local auto industry in Australia is slowly drawing to a close, a few Opels will soon be found in Holden showrooms, beginning with the Cascada convertible.
In the wake of General Motors’ decision to cease all manufacturing operations through Australian subsidiary Holden by 2017, the Australian government has announced that they will create a $100 million AUD ($89 million USD) fund for affected employees.
Just as TTAC predicted in earlier editorials, Holden will be receiving vehicles imported from China as part of its future product plan – the vehicle slated to be imported from China is no less than the next generation Commodore.
With the demise of Holden’s manufacturing and R&D facilities complete by 2017, General Motors is reportedly looking to kill off the Holden brand and switch over to Chevrolet instead.
-Mike Devereux, Holden’s former Managing Director, in November, 2012
Those ominous words spoken by Mike Devereux last year have taken on an almost eerie significance in light of yesterday’s events. After more than a half century of building cars in Australia, Holden will now become a “national sales company”, ostensibly selling rebadged global General Motors products, manufactured in places like Korea and Thailand.
But veiled remarks about the Australian auto industry aren’t the only words uttered by Devereux that caused us to take notice. At the launch of the latest VF Commodore, Devereux made a vague statement about the Commodore’s future, implying that it would be built on a global platform at the Adelaide factory. While the latter is no longer possible, there’s still hope that the Commodore could live a GM architecture. The only question is, which one?
Holden informed the Australian federal and state level governments that it will cease car production in Australia by 2017, citing a “perfect storm” of unfavorable exchange rates, high production costs and a small but competitive car market that has seen sales of traditional Australian-made rear-drive sedans and Utes plummet in recent years. An estimated 3000 workers are said to be directly affected by the closure of Holden’s manufacturing facilities.
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.