General Motors’ Holden division is without a manufacturing operation for the first time ever. On October 20, 2017, the final Australian-built Holden left the assembly line.
But, its end didn’t go unnoticed at GM. Many current GM brass reflected on Holden’s manufacturing end in a new interview with Automotive News published on Saturday. Indeed, numerous top GM executives first passed through Holden as they developed their professional careers. That includes Mark Reuss, now GM’s head product chief, Michael Simcoe, now head of GM design, Alan Batey, GM North America Vice President, and Phil Brook, Buick-GMC marketing head.
The publication spoke with Brook, Simcoe, and Cadillac executive director of design Andrew Smith—all native Australians—and allowed them a moment to reflect on the brand’s manufacturing demise.
For Brook, he said it’s “sad,” but added, “I guess it’s an economic reality of where the world’s at and where Australia is at and it’s isolation.” Manufacturing cars in Australia was “challenging,” he said.
Simcoe likened the end of Australian auto production to the fact GM no longer has a design studio in Europe. GM let go of the studio with the sale of Opel and Vauxhall last year to PSA Groupe.
“Business dictates rationalism of things like that. The rational side of my brain is there and understands the business,” Simcoe said. “But at the same time, I’m Australian. I’m concerned that there’s no manufacturing industry down there, and in Germany, I would love to have a design center still.”
Finally, Smith summed it up in a more blunt tone: “It’s tough. I’ll be frank. It’s kind of personal.” Smith mentioned his father was a Holden dealer, and Smith also led the brand’s design department for a year and a half. However, he saw a bright future from an advanced development perspective.
“[Holden advanced development] is in fact one of the feeders for designers and engineers into General Motors. … We use our advanced facilities there as a way to find new talent.”
Holden marked the end of local production with the Holden Dream Cruise and held a private ceremony for assembly workers on the final day or production. The final Commodore built was a Liquid Red VF Series II Commodore SS-V.