While the end of Holden manufacturing locally is still more than three years distant, the company is already gearing up as a full importer – while still pushing locally built products – in a strategy that is paying dividends. In May Holden was one of only two makers in the top 10 to increase sales over the same period in 2013 – the other being Hyundai. While the overall market was down 2.9 per cent, Holden was up 8.2 per cent with Commodore up 62 per cent, year to date.

“This is a very different announcement than the one we were making last year,” said George Svigos, GM Holden’s corporate communications spokesman. This was a reference to Holden’s 2013 announcement that it would be ceasing local production in late 2017. The comment came at a Holden media day on the eve of the second rugby league State of Origin match in Sydney. Holden is the event’s major sponsor and used it to market VF Commodore in particular to the 3 million-plus Australians who viewed it live on TV and more than 83,000 fans at the game.

Holden_State_of_Origin_3“When we cease production of the Commodore and Cruze in late 2017 that simply means two bricks will be missing from the wall,” said Holden’s director of Sales and Marketing, Phill Brook. “And, at that time, those two bricks will be replaced.” Pressed to expand on what vehicle could replace Commodore, Mr Brook would not comment further on such issues as a rear-wheel-drive option or utility.

“Right now we are concentrating on the products we have to sell. That’s our focus. But I can assure Holden buyers there will be replacement vehicles for Commodore and Cruze.”

Holden_State_of_Origin_2Mr Brook then announced that the popular small SUV, Holden Trax would have a new performance model released later this year, fitted with a 1.4-litre turbo charger. It’s the same engine that lifted performance in the small car Cruze and the even smaller Barina RS with 200 Nm of torque from 1850 to 4900 rpm.

Holden has intensified its marketing and advertising since the announcement was made that it would cease local production. This announcement was misconstrued by some people to mean GM Holden would cease to sell cars in Australia from 2017. The company responded by starting a campaign with the message that Holden was here to stay, but as a full importer.


It has since announced that some Opel-built cars will be imported to Australia in early 2015 and badged as Holdens including the Cascada convertible, Astra GTC and VXR three door hatches and the Insignia VXR performance sedan.

At the media day we were able to get track time in Commodore SS, Barina RS, Volt and Cruze including drag races, slalom and gymkhana events to highlight each vehicle’s assets. It was a Queensland versus NSW event and gave a portent of things to come later in the night with the NSW motoring journos victorious over their Queensland counterparts.

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