By on December 12, 2013


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.

According to Australia’s News Corp, the plan to shutter Holden has been around since the early days of the financial crisis, when GM wanted to kill it off along with Pontiac and Hummer. Only fierce resistance from Mark Reuss, who once headed up Holden, led to the brand being given a stay of execution.

Outgoing Holden boss Mike Devereux told News Corp that

“Holden is here to stay. Holden has been a part of Australia’s past … and it will part of its future for decades to come. Holden is one of the most valuable brands in Australia. We are committed to the brand for the long term. The brand is going to be a part of the fabric of this country for a very long time.”

But with Devereux scheduled to leave Holden for GM’s regional operations in Shanghai starting in February, 2014, Holden will lose another potential guardian.

GM insiders feel that with Holden becoming solely an importer of vehicles, there is nothing distinct about the brand, and it makes little sense to retain it. By contrast, introducing Chevrolet would allow for GM’s Australia division to take advantage of marketing efforts like the sponsorship deal with Manchester United, and avoid any negative backlash against Holden that would arise from shutting down its Australian factories.

Holden is also seen by some as having an image problem, too closely linked to Australia Rules football and other “bogan” pursuits. As part of its continued survival, Holden agreed to market the Volt as its own product, despite the fact that it is a major money-loser and sells in negligible volumes due to its high price and poor interior packaging.

Holden insiders told News Corp that  “The amount of money we’ve spent trying to defend the Holden brand to Detroit is ridiculous,” but GM executives would counter their work with photos of Holden Utes retrofitted with Chevrolet badges as proof of Holdens irrelevance.

On the retail front, re-branding dealerships would cost between $500,000 and $1,000,000 AUD, with dealers picking up half the tab. Any dealer that did not comply would risk losing their franchise.

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55 Comments on “GM Looking To Shutter Holden, Re-Brand As Chevrolet After 2017...”

  • avatar

    Wow, I can’t believe somebody fed yet another GM brand to a snowblower!

  • avatar

    “GM executives would counter their work with photos of Holden Utes retrofitted with Chevrolet badges as proof of Holdens irrelevance.”

    That grass-is-greener thing happens everywhere. Some of the hardcore GTO fans buy Holden Monaro badges and grilles. A lot of Europeans love US license plates, a lot of American Europhiles do the opposite. Same with painted vs unpainted bumper strips. It’s just part of customization. I can’t believe an executive would use that as any kind of “proof” of anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking of rebadging, this is kind of amusing:

      Not to be confused with the Chav, the bogan’s British cousin, the new bogan male now wants to be a Chev. This utterly confusing phenomenon involves the removal the Holden badging from a Monaro or SS Commodore, replacing them with badges from a bankrupt American company. While the bogan will sometimes profess a desire to visit the vacuous crassness that is Las Vegas, it has generally been unfashionable during the last decade for the aspirational Aussie bogan to be overtly pro-American. Except on his Australian car.

      (A “chav” is sort of the Brit thuggish version of a “redneck.”)

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, I knew all about Chavs, but had never heard Bogan before. That’s the third-best Australian import after Paul Hogan and the word “hoon.”

        A chav really is a quasi-thug, but in a place where there aren’t enough traditional American-style hoods to orginically create the archetype. Every society seems to fill this role somehow, even when the socioeconomic situation doesn’t really dictate it.

        • 0 avatar

          And of course a “thug” is really an Indian term, so …

        • 0 avatar

          I could be wrong, but I think that bogans are more similar to rednecks (country people, or at least similar to them) than chavs (violent, and often urban, living in council housing/ housing projects). Bogans and rednecks aren’t necessarily bad people, while you’d want to steer clear of the chavs.

          • 0 avatar

            As a (over)generalization one can think of chavs as being mostly urban, rednecks typically rural and bogans often suburban.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            A bogan isn’t a redneck.

            A bogan is an extension of a ‘Westie’ a term derived from the western suburbs of Sydney.

            A Bogan or Westie attire generally consists of jeans, runners/joggers (US, sneaker ie, Nike etc) Tee shirt, flanno (flannelette shirt in the evening when cool) and a sloppy joe (sweat shirt).

            They drink lots of beer aren’t embarrassed to fart in public. Normal people who usually don’t have tertiary education at a university. But there are some educated educated bogans around like myself.

            I suppose a bogan is the modern larrikin.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Why couldn’t GM license Machester United regionally, so they could do Opel, Vauxhall, Holden, and whatever is required by the region, rather than throw out brand equity and shoehorn in Chevy in places of the world that want nothing to do with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Whiteman

      Because Man U jerseys don’t magically changed based on where the match is being broadcast? Using GM might have worked though, as long as the various brands actually admit to being a GM brand in their own marketing.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a very logical and intelligent question, @Compaq. Maybe Joel Ewanick is lurking around here and provide a counter-intuitive argument to justify GM’s rationale.

      Then again, maybe not.

  • avatar

    Whilst I’m sure GM has done the maths behind this etc etc, it does strike me as very strange.

    Even if the local brand has a slightly naff reputation, sure the car buying public will still find it more agreeable than a foreign brand? I say this because I live in the UK, in which instead of operating Opel, GM operates the Vauxhall brand. Everybody in the UK knows that Vauxhalls are just rebranded Opels, and despite operating a sizeable manufacturing arm Vauxhall is ultimately another cog in the GM machine, yet Vauxhall’s market share is still twice that of Opel, in spite of it’s relatively naff image (which seems almost identical to that of Holden).

    Yes Vauxhall’s success compared to Opel isn’t all down to it being a “local” brand, and yes there are of course many other factors at play (more aggressive pricing, for example), but I would always be weary of underestimating the public’s affection for a local brand, particularly when it’s the only mainstream one left (as is the case for Vauxhall and Holden).

    Basically I don’t understand what’s driving this other than GM’s relentless and perhaps ideological slog to make Chevrolet a global brand.

    • 0 avatar

      So keep the Holden brand but make it a simple rebadge of Chevrolet (or Opel) models. And bring in Buick and Cadillac, which have at least a hope of being global brands.

  • avatar

    RenCen, is Vauxhall next?

    • 0 avatar

      @28 GM has already committed towards focusing on Vauxhall though with the speed at which things are changing I wouldn’t be surprised if Vauxhall is next. Vauxhall is merely a badge job, so I guess it can stay. Holdens however had a redesigned grill even though the car is a usually a Chevy. I am surprised at the volume of changes announced in the last week. Guess they were waiting for treasury to exit .

      Treasury completely sold off their stock.
      GM is selling all of their shares in Ally
      Chevrolet is shutdown in Europe
      Dan Ackerson is stepping down
      Mary Bharra is the new CEO
      South Korean operations will be scaled back.
      Holden domestic assembly will be shut down
      Selling off their shares in PSA
      Holden itself may go away
      GMIO head quarters moved to Singapore from Shanghai. Whats next? End their merger with SAIC?

      Gotta love the new mean and angry GM. Zero tolerance for any brand or region that can’t pull it’s own weight.

      • 0 avatar

        Looks like RenCen is consolidating its empire, pure and simple. My logic is if Holden can’t even exist as a Chevy rebadge in 2017, then why Vauxhall?

        I doubt GM will decouple from SAIC, if anything they will increase the scope of their investment in China at large and possibly become a China focused company. If they could get away from partnership with Chinese gov’t owned entities and be truly independent I’m sure they would, but I doubt Beijing will allow it therefore its wise to still have one foot still in North America so to speak.

        • 0 avatar

          Based on what? Are you predicting an earthquake?

        • 0 avatar


          No, it’s being razed to create…Delta City.

        • 0 avatar

          Cue Robocop theme music, er again.

        • 0 avatar

          Sabre rattling pure and simple. Any flyovers or wargames in the area simply demonstrate that the US is serious about the matter, similar to Moscow parking Russian Navy ships in Tartus in the summer over Syria.

          The real show may come out of North Korea pretty soon, assuming the reports of Jang Song Thaek’s execution are accurate. Things could get messy quick if fat boy has truly gone into Stalin mode. I could even see Jong Un’s maternal aunt (Jang’s wife, Kim Jong Il’s sister) making a play here if a successor other than herself could be found (Jong Il has an older son Kim Jong Nam who lives under Chinese custody in Macau and was the previous successor until he fled the country in 2001/02). I wonder if Jang saw Jong Un was going off the reservation and was planning a coup of his own, hence his execution as opposed to “re-education” time he received previously when he fell out of favor with Jong Il about ten years ago. This is akin to Micheal Corleone being made Don and then killing his semi-retired father, on the surface it doesn’t add up. Depending on what happens and who survives, Jong Un may end up being deposed and his older brother being brought in as a Chinese controlled puppet leader. This stuff is better than anything on TV.

          “‘‘If he has to go as high as purging and then executing Jang, it tells you that everything’s not normal,’’ said Victor Cha, a former senior White House adviser on Asia.”

        • 0 avatar

          28-cars, that’s one convoluted soap opera plot. Any vampires in it?

        • 0 avatar


          I wouldn’t be surprised if Dear Leader could conjure up one, NK is almost another universe. Game of Thrones eat your heart out.

          Just read today in the Telegraph an analysis which suggests Jang Song Thaek’s wife Kim Kyung-hui (and Kim Jong Il’s sister) either approved of or helped orchestrate the purge of her husband. Other reports suggest Jong Un’s brother Jong chol (described as a “sissy” by Kim Jong Il) personally took part in the executions of Jang’s deputies two weeks ago. This is all very unusual even for these nutters. Some analysts have suggested Jong Un is cleaning house of the “old men” his father employed in some kind of twisted youth revolution. What must be understood is Jang was brother in law to Kim Jong Il and was the number two or three man in NK for at least the last five to seven years. One might argue he was pulling the strings especially after the Jong Il stroke in 2009 IIRC. Jang had the connections within and outside the country to keep the regime intact. Depending on how many (and whose) heads roll because of this Jong Un may cripple his own government’s ability to properly function and invite a collapse from the inside. If this were to happen the NK military would spring into action but its possible the PRC may also intervene. This analysis is telling:

          “The indictment of which he was immediately found guilty accused Jang both of “selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices” and of opposing the “development of the industries of Juche iron, Juche fertilizer and Juche vinalon”.

          This is Pyongyang-speak for the development of North Korean indigenous industries (vinalon is a uniquely North Korean – and uniquely uncomfortable – artificial fibre).

          So Jang probably argued that North Korea should trade its abundant natural resources to secure the basic materials that it needs rather than try (inefficiently) to manufacture them itself. This heresy will have infuriated North Korea’s ideologues, and apparently Kim Jong-un too. Jang’s purge probably signals a reverse perestroika – that North Korea is abandoning its timid attempts at structural economic reform.

          Thirdly, this is a slap in the face for China. China is often described as North Korea’s only ally but with every nuclear test and every provocative missile launch the relationship has become more strained. After North Korea’s third nuclear test in February China recalibrated its policy to North Korea.”

  • avatar

    Just…wow. I get the business side of it. But just wow.

    If this pans out to be true I’m going all in on the Holden conversion. RHD here I come.

  • avatar

    The brand name Chevrolet is viewed with derision or worse in Europe, unless it refers to honest-to-goodness real American-made iron. Read pistonheads. The Holden-driving bogans in Australia can still buy cheap bowtie badges on eBay and wave to each other as members of a secret club.

    But Holden should be GM’s name in Oz.

    The Man U deal may still work in Asia where the name Chevrolet is relatively unknown. Let’s hope the advertising works out to be worth $562 million there.

  • avatar

    Is the Holden brand tarnished to the point it is better to start over? Seems like a waste of a brand just a few years back had the number one selling model.

    • 0 avatar

      Holden could dominate the market (along with Ford) when protected by high tariffs and local content requirements.

      But with a 5% tariff and an FTA with Thailand, the situation is quite different. The brand is severely tarnished (although I have my doubts that replacing it with Chevy is a particularly bright idea.)

  • avatar

    This is not a new idea. The Holden Commodore has been sold as the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East, South Africa and South East Asia.

  • avatar

    I’ve got to say I’m baffled by the simultaneous decisions to dump the Chevy brand in Europe but replace Holden with it in Oz. Instead of re-shuffling the nameplate deck, what if they spent that money to offer those markets more desirable and appropriate product? Maybe the answer lies in the admission that dealers will pick up (at least) 50% of the tab for this “strategy”.

    • 0 avatar

      Same way they got dealers to set up entirely separate Hummer franchises for what was essentially an aggressively macho Silverado.

      All this activity is exciting I guess, but GM is really a schizoid company. I wonder if someone is saying to Barra “be careful what you wish for.”

    • 0 avatar

      Holden has generally not done well with selling smaller cars, and it will be difficult to appeal to the Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! fanboys with imports.

      Still, I agree that it’s not a great idea. Fixing the brand would be preferable to introducing a new one.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting point. Perhaps they hired someone from Lincoln? Sorry, I mean the Lincoln Motor Company.

  • avatar

    I like the Holden badge, it actually looks better to my eye than a Chevrolet badge. So just adopt the old Holden badge, but call it Chevrolet, unless the Holden badge would blow GM’s Bling budget for the car. Call All of those little local brands Chevrolet.

    What would that lose?

  • avatar

    My first impression is that the decision to drop the Holden badge is just daft. Granted, my entire first hand experience with the Australian market is the two weeks that I spent there in 1988, though I’ll go back again if someone wants to bankroll my investigation, but my impression was that the Aussies had a lot of home-team pride in Holden. Maybe they did a study that found imported Chevys rebadged as Holdens would just piss off the locals. Maybe this is a strategy designed to forestall a rash of Fosters-fueled riots. It seems to me that Australia is a large enough market for a company like GM to at least keep a level of domestic knock-down-kit assembly going.

    • 0 avatar

      Fosters?! No self-respecting Aussie would ever drink Fosters! :)

      Actually I’m not even sure it’s possible to buy it here anymore. We may well only make it for export nowadays.

  • avatar

    This is kinda of funny how the US tend to think about the world’s familiarity with US stuff. 2/3 of the world have no clue nor do they care one bit about baseball, football, Chevrolet, etc. If Holden cars aren’t good, then bring in a good car and call it a Holden (e.g. Ford bring in their European sedan and call it the Fusion). Why are they trying to introduce a whole new brand to Australia, especially a Chevrolet brand that is not known for having good cars. And for those people that are about to jump on my last sentence, calm down. Chevrolet’s recent cars are much better when compared to their previous versions. The fact remains, the Malibu, the Cruze, etc. are still laggards when compared against the Accords, Camry, Sonata, Civic, etc. At the end of the day, I think this will fail like numerous attempts by GM to re-brand rather than re-build the cars.

  • avatar

    Amazing how GM (Generally Mismanaged) keeps floundering around while circling the drain, yet somehow avoids going entirely under.
    Holden is an iconic brand in Australia, and its demise is nothing less than tragic to patriotic Aussies.
    For those on the Ford side of Ford-vs.-Holden, though, this is a great victory.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      No it is not a victory, it merely means GM have belatedly faced up to the same challenges and come to the same conclusion as Ford. The only reason that Toyota is hanging in there is because they can afford to, there’s no logic to it.

    • 0 avatar

      it helps to avoid going “completely under” when you can get the US taxpayers to kick in a lotta moolah.

  • avatar

    This does not bode well for the V8 Supercar series …… I can see the conversion to the NASCRAP spec racers, which will kill the series for sure!

    • 0 avatar

      If case you didn’t know, V8SC cars are already spec racers very much like NASCAR. The tube frame, brakes, suspension, steering, and the transmission are spec. The engines are “production based”, but there is a huge freedom in where you get the engine from (doesn’t have to be the same car, or currently produced) and how you modify it. Wanna race a RWD V8 Nissan Altima? No problem. Notheless, the cars look great, sound mean, and the racing is fantastic. The big difference is that V8SC wisely requires that the cars use production body panels so that the racers do look like stock cars, instead of giant soap bars on wheels (as in NASCAR).

      Nonetheless, this will not bode well with the fans. This will akin to Ferrari or McLaren leaving F1. Honden’s V8SC fan base is huge. They dress up in red and show up in great numbers. They’re eternal rivals with Ford Falcon fans, who dress in blue.

  • avatar

    @28-Cars-Later: I can see it now…I think Detroit turned down the proposal to build a statue of RoboCop, though, so I’m not sure the real life Detroit would be into the future of law enforcement.

    Plus a GM RoboCop would probably leak oil or have faulty computer programming…

  • avatar

    All this fuss over what name tag is glued on to the hood at the end of the assembly line. The days of autonomous GM divisions producing distinct vehicles are pretty much gone.
    I’m sure that numerous PhD dissertations have been written on the psychology of brand names. Maybe I’m subject to subliminal forces I’m not aware of, but I like to think I just go after the car I like best, and don’t worry about the brand name or fraudulent patriotic appeals.

  • avatar

    Cut, Consolidate, and Close are all we have come to expect from the Company without a Clue. US Market Share will dip to 15% in 2014 and that is not the bottom.


  • avatar

    “Holden is an iconic brand in Australia, and its demise is nothing less than tragic to patriotic Aussies.”

    A brand that is 100% owned by a USA company. Didn’t know AUS was the 51st state?

    And where were the “Patriotic” buyers for the ‘pure Oz’ cars lately? Sounds like Ford Panther fanatics, who insisted that “buyers are out there, they can’t afford one right now”

    • 0 avatar

      Ownership of the brand is behind-the-scenes, to many Australians Holden is _the_ Australian car. Most people dont pay attention to these things and many would not know that Holden imports cars – Holden = Australian remember!

      To the main story, Chevrolets have not been sold in this country in any number for almost 50 years, I predict selling Chevrolets would work about as well as in Europe. People would associate Chevrolet will old fullsize ‘yank tanks’ or Camaros, not hatchbacks or crossovers.

      Changing brands is more than just replacing signs – brands spend hundreds of millions to maintain awareness. To change a brand… they may as well pack their tent and go home.

      Leverage international marketing efforts, please! Leaving to one side all of the local media advertising (has it ever been easier to tweak content?), even online advertising is location-aware so that you run a relevant ad to the specific viewer.

  • avatar

    Egad, anyone who thinks the brand name Chevrolet has any equity must be smoking with Toronto’s mayor.

    Jeez, the rocket surgeons at GM ought to kill Chevrolet, not Holden.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Chevrolet will sell over 5,000,000 vehicles globally in 2013, a new Chevrolet sold every 9.5 seconds, 24/7-365, on average. The brand is helping GM achieve 9%+ margins in NA which gives them great financial strength to build the brand.

    Holden sold 114,000 vehicles in 2012, 82,000 of them produced in country. With another 13,800 exported, total Holden production was 96,000. The tally for 2013 is not likely to be larger. That is half the size of the Chevrolet volume in Europe that GM is walking away from. GM lost $153M (Aus.) on those Holden sales (-$1,340/car). From a business perspective, GM would have been better off to shutter Holden altogether.

    With that said, Holden still has more brand equity than Chevrolet in Oz and NZ. If I were a betting man, I’d bet the brand name will continue, as they have announced, as a national sales company.

    Toyota has already issued an ominous press release indicating that this Holden decision may put insurmountable pressure on their Australian production operations. Scale is everything in the car business. Australia is just too small a market to provide adequate scale to compete with other manufacturing locations.

    I can’t help but wonder what the Aussies foresee will exist when ALL of their manufacturing disappears, as appears inevitable with today’s business realities and their government policies.

  • avatar

    Seeing that they are even going to cull the R & D side of Holden. Any imported vehicles will no longer gain the benefit of local tuning. Now we will really get to see how well(tic) imported vehicles handle. Will we get wallowy marshmallow rides for various imported chev’s . Will the Daewoo’s fall apart on the first drive in the bush? How about when Joe blow hooks up the 6×4 with 500kg of dirt and drags the bum of the car off the rest of the body?

    One other thing, will the US government , at the behest of the car manufacturers, pressure Australia to go LHD? Just think about it. No need to waste all that engineering effort to turn LHD to RHD. We promise that cars will be cheaper. Cheaper interiors, build quality, etc..

    • 0 avatar

      R&D will be somewhere else, maybe where they came up with Colorado/trailblazer introduced first in RHD Thailand. Not having a big RWD passenger car seems like a bigger problem, but maybe there will be RHD version of some future architecture which can be sold in Asia, UK, Oz, NZ, Africa. Or maybe, by then, all target customers incl. bogans drive Thai SUVs and trucks already, instead of V8 saloons and utes.
      Move to LHD is not in the cards either IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        Funny thing here is in the States most people don’t even opt for those anymore. They opt for the big ugly FWD car on stilts and they pay SUV money for them and get SUV fuel economy. American car buyers at large are just stupid creatures.

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