GM May Have “Underestimated” Impact Of Holden Factory Closures35
General Motors Vice President of International Relations Stefan Jacoby offered up a state of admittance to press during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Speaking to a crowd of journalists, the man credited with shutting down local Australian operations admitted that the customer uncertainty that has followed the announcement has been much more serious than expected reports Motoring.
“I was the one who decided to stop production in Australia.” Jacoby said. He went on saying, “The decision was made on a business case. I have underestimated the uncertainty of our customers and we will identify that and correct that.”
Part of this correction process will be the inclusion of a new rear-wheel drive V8 powered hero car for Holden, either the Chevrolet Camaro or Corvette Stingray.
The inclusion of a V8 powered sports coupe will give a much needed boost in morale to local Australians, as will significant input from Holden designers and engineers on the upcoming Commodore replacement being co-developed with Germany’s Opel.
Looking at the sales numbers following the announcement of Holden’s manufacturing closures, the brand suffered a colossal 5.3 percent drop in vehicle sales. Large in comparison to the industry average 2 percent. Add in the fact that many local Aussies equate the ceased manufacturing to the death of the roaring lion, and you can probably see why Jacoby is going public on the facts.
When Holden announced it would cease production in December of 2013, the story hit every local media source in a whirlwind, plastering the news all over Aussie newspapers, TV and websites. Now, Jacoby is reassuring the Australian public that new Holden products will arrive with a distinct Aussie flavor.
“We believe Holden is an iconic brand and we want to strengthen the Holden brand. What is important is to clarify our commitment to Holden,” stated Jacoby, referring to better supporting GM’s Australian arm with innovative right-hand drive vehicles, of which an increasing number which will come from Europe.
Jacoby again reiterated that one third of the Holden lineup will be sourced from Opel, stating the German brand will make “great donor right-hand drive [cars].” He also noted Holden would rely less and less on Asian imports, quite possibly signaling an end to the Holen Barina, aka the Chevrolet Sonic in the country.
What we can take away from Jacoby’s quotes is this: any vehicle heading to Oz will be truly tailored for Aussie buyers. This means big things in the handling and driving characteristics of its vehicles, since the land down under most definitely isn’t the same as Western Europe where many of its new vehicles will come from.
In this respect, Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground and engineering team will be crucial.
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What a dufus.
What did he expect from the Aussies?
He expected acceptance, they all expected that. The same as what Ford expected, but neither have gotten. Toyota on the other hand have gotten this, as they 1 – didn’t stuff around in making a decision unlike GM and 2 – the Camry is a world car, whereas the Falcon and Commodore are both only manufactured in Australia (unlike what the yanks want to think with regards to the Chevy SS – IT’S MADE IN ADELAIDE AND IS A COMMODORE, NOT BASED ON ONE!). US consumers have only recently found out that Holden make the best products to any US equivalent, which if given the opportunity, Ford would’ve shown that with the Falcon, which probably would’ve outsold their awful Fusions and Tauruses. Holden have some of the best facilities in the world at their disposal for vehicle development and manufacturing which Ford Australia have the same thing, especially for their low amount of funding Ford US have given them. The FG X is a prime example of this, as it’s a world class car which was developed at minimal cost and looks as though it’s price tag would be much higher than it actually is (especially from the back as it’s very Jaguar-y). VF sales haven’t been the best partially because they Americanised the design (sorry, but it looks awful, especially from the back which is obviously based on the Impala and Malibu which look awful on the whole). The VE was a simple but good looking design, whereas the added bits to the VF make it look overly complicated and just plain awful. Would’ve been better off running a variation of the HSV E Series taillights, to be honest. These will be noticed when they go, whereas the change of manufacture for the Camry won’t, although the fact that the Aurion will be missing from Toyota showrooms might, even though it’ll probably be replaced with a V6 version of the Camry which is what it pretty much was, anyway.
I agree that Holden has introduced some fine products, but they don’t touch the CTS, ATS, Camaro, or Corvette; products you guys don’t see. And I didn’t even mention pickups and SUVs because you didn’t.
The problem with Holden is most Australians aren’t patriotic to locally made products and have discovered that it is anti-social to drive Australian vehicles. The same thing happened in the U.S., but the U.S. market is 17 times bigger than the Australian; so there is a enough to go around. There isn’t enough to go around in Australia, so the 20% that actually buy domestics and are proud of it, will now have to follow the other 80% and buy imports.
Personally, if I were Australian, I’d never again buy a new vehicle. I’d drive what I had until I died.
Don’t worry mate i will be owning my VF Calais until i die, why on earth would i want some FWD rubbish for my daily drive? Obviously the people at GM have never had to drive a FWD car on a corrugated gravel road. The only exception i take at your post is my V8 VF Calais would compare quite favorably to a CTS etc.
I’m an Aussie living in Canada and I found a VE Commodore SS (Pontiac G8 GT) bl–dy great car, with almost 300,000K better than the pieces of stuff produced in North America. You can beat the heck out of this and it comes back for more and returns 34 mpg on the hiway.
Gm has just screwed up a way of life for most Aussies between Falcon, Commodore, Super V8 racing, gone!!!!! The camaro came from a Commodore. A true man admitting a mistake would reverse it!
P-ssed in Canada
Hey Bob – Aussie Engineers are some of the best in the world and have developed some of the best cars in the world. GM’s exit from Australia along with Ford and Toyota’s exit leaves us with a huge gap in manufacturing and development. Governments should be ashamed at this stupid policy as should GM, Ford and Toyota. They may have thought is was good for their bottom line but it will turn out to be the opposite as the previously loyal will abandon their products in droves!!!!
P-ssed in OZ
Underestimated is an understatement, this is the most monumental fuck up GM have made in their history in Australia. Good enough won’t cut it when they switch to full importation. They need segment leaders in absolutely every category, sadly though hundreds of thousands of loyal Holden buyers have moved on. If you don’t believe me read all of the hateful comments on their Facebook page. I feel sorry for Holden, GM Detroit and our governments greed are to blame. They are going to have a horrible time over the next 10 years.
If their current lineup is anything to go with, I highly doubt we’ll get anything more than mediocre crap at it’s best, which would still be a step up from the CRAPtiva, CRUDze, Barina and Colorado which are poorly made and made cheaply by people who get paid poor wages, apart from the Cruze, which while assembled here, come here in kits from Korea. All they had to do was invest in Holden more to be able to produce their own lineup which would’ve been the best in their categories, much like the Commodore is. The Commodore and Falcon are both the best cars in their class, they just can’t be made as cheaply as an equivalent Kia or Hyundai, which sell for a sizeable chunk less, but with possibly more standard gadgets that might be optional on a Commodore or Falcon. GM have done a lot more than simply underestimated, they’ve committed corporate suicide in Australia. Ford on the other hand are selling top notch products (Falcon, Territory and Ranger – yes I know the Ranger is made in Thailand, but unlike the Colorado, is made well and is the by far the best 4×4 ute money can buy at the moment with the 3.2 litre turbo diesel five cylinder) which will continue to do well, provided they are marketed correctly, which at the moment, the Falcon and Territory rarely if ever get advertised, which would boost their sales even more. But while this isn’t about the Falcon, my comparison between Holden and Ford’s current product lineup shows that while Ford might improve their position, Holden will more than likely tank
The next few years will be a massive experiment for GM, with Australia serving as laboratory.
Holden will be selling a ‘best of GM (Opel, Buick, Chevy) line up’, and Detroit would be wuse to take note of results.
The Aussie market had much in common with the US, and it will be interesting to see if Vauxhall products trump Chevrolet-based model sales.
If so, GM should consider selling Opel’s line of compacts/city cars globally, and reserve vehicles like sonic for both bargin bin offerings (like Karl/Viva) and the developing world.
This would be an easy task given that the vehicle’s that Opel shares with Buick have a more sophisticated, sculpted design language than the smaller offering.
Or they can keep losing money. GM didn’t mess up Holden, the consumer and the government did by buying imports and sticking there nose up to their own countrymen. Now you can buy all the damn imports your heart desires.
Is there hate mail at Toyoda and Mitsubishi? There should [email protected]
The only way to strengthen the Holden brand is to keep selling Australian made product. Whist I know this decision may not be able to be reversed, either through corporate structure, financial gain/loss or because GM simply just don’t want to, the cessation of Holden selling a car manufactured in a Holden plant is the death of not only the brand, but of GM in Australia full stop. There is no way known many people will buy anything from a Holden dealership after the Commodore (the real RWD one, not the bullshit FWD replacement) has stopped being made. Falcon sales are a case in point. The demand for FG X (the final Falcon) has far outstripped supply abilities, especially that of the XR8, as they now have an almost six month long waiting list for them, something unheard of these days in a mass produced model. Commodore demand is probably pretty similar, although I don’t have any figures that can prove that, especially for V8 models such as the SS, which was one of the VEs biggest selling derivatives, much like HSV’s top selling model is the Clubsport.
Jacoby takes the credit for shutting down production , but acknowledges he underestimated the uncertainty of its buyers , as sales plummet 5.3 % .This brilliant fellow thinks you can turn off the tap of customer uncertainty with imports from Opel . So the masses of the people have the attention span of gerbils , perhaps ? Folks , today is a new day , come to our showrooms for german Opels , just what you need , we have got it right this time !!
Here’s what’s missing ,,,, what is the trending marketplace doing , what are the masses buying ? Is it not a fact that Holden has been declining in market share for years and that it was and is responsible for not tuning into the marketplace in a timely fashion ??
Frankly , there is strong groundswell for support of manufacturing Australian vehicles from former employees and the general public and it will resurface , perhaps as a major manufacturer , building for local sales and also exporting quality needed vehicles to Asian countries . This makes a lot of sense , these countries are not too far afield , not like shipping them haIf way around the world like is tried half-heartedly to the USA . ….I think Ford is proposing this , though Toyota or other will appear soon as a possible manufacturer .
Holden , I feel , regardless of Jacoby’s position , is beyond correction . Frankly it is simply a case of ” what you gave , you got ” and the people there will make sure this isn’t forgotten !
Ford are going to close their local manufacturing plants down before Holden and Toyota are. Toyota has been making cars here in Australia since the sixties (at AMI nonetheless, but their own factory was built in the 1980’s in Melbourne) and still make Camrys and Aurions (a V6 version of the Camry) in this factory. The thing is though, there have been quite a few things that have ruined the local industry. Import tariffs being the lowest in any developed country with manufacturing capability is probably the big one and has put the nail in the coffin of Australian manufacturing as a whole, not just the automotive industry. The Falcon and Commodore have proven to be top notch products, with the Commodore being the best GM vehicle available apart from RWD Cadillacs and the Camaro being based on the Zeta architecture, as well as being developed by Holden. If Ford had decided to engineer the Falcon for LHD and sell it in Middle Eastern countries and the US, then Falcon sales would have skyrocketed, and maybe would’ve even been able to keep making the Fairlane and LTD (former Caprice competitor), but they didn’t do this as they knew it would’ve shown up their equivalent US products.
There will be a drop off between now and when the new product arrives. This guy should have understood that.
Things will pick up with the Performance car, Your Holden Version of the Avenir, Coming Malibu and updated Colorado.
There is a lot of things going to happen but it will be 2017 and on before you see it.
Yes your version of the AWD RWD Avenir will be shared with Opel/Vauxhall. And Yes Holden did a lot of work on it.
In the mean time it is what it is. The folks can get mad at GM but in the end they are going to buy an import anyways.
Colorado is nothing to write home about though and is far from the greatest in it’s class, much like the similar Isuzu D-Max which are both nothing compared to the Ranger (which is my choice in the 4×4 pickups available, in 3.2 litre dual cab form) and the more established Hilux, which is still the best selling in that segment. Avenir might look OK in pictures, but apart from that will most likely be god awful underneath, running carried over mechanicals from the current Insignia. And the Malibu? Well if the current model is anything to go by, it’d barely sell and will look as though they got Blind Freddy to design it by drawing lines over the current Camry’s picture and also have awful Daewoo abilities (slow, poor handling and just plain awful to be in) if they were to sell it here, which they reportedly aren’t. But since they’re going to sell Opels instead of Daewoos here (that’s what has been reported for the past few months), we’ll have the Insignia instead of the Malibu, the Astra instead of the Cruze and the Corsa instead of the Barina (not sure if we’ll also be getting the Adam, which I reckon might do pretty well pitched against the Fiat 500, Mini and Beetle), although I have a feeling we’ll get the Corsa badged as a Barina, much like we did from 1994-2004, and the updated (re: further Americanised) Colorado will still be a slow seller in it’s segment as it’s miles behind it’s Ford and Toyota competitors, even though the Hilux is still basically the same underneath as it was in 2005 when they brought out the current generation. Also, the RWD V8 replacement will probably also be worked over by HSV, which while it’ll probably end up being the best Camaro/Corvette available anywhere in the world (recent reports are pointing towards next gen Corvette), it will also most likely be priced well out of reach of Australian buyers, much like the Mustang will be at AU$50,000 for the basic EcoBoost version.
GM are starting to realise they’ve stuffed up big time in Australia, and while they’re trying to remedy it soon with the return of Opel made products within the next couple of years, I’m afraid it’s a case of too little, too late.
2017 will be the beginning of the death of not only the Holden name (unless someone decides to buy the name from GM and they agree to sell said rights), but GM in Australia as a whole. Within ten years of the factory’s closure, I foresee no GM presence in Australia whatsoever.
I do see the shut down as a mistake given that the AU dollar will eventually fall and local labor cost is no worse than Korea.
I still believe Aveair was begun as the next Commodore, then flipped over to Buick.
Holden has been dying for a while bleeding market share for decades. I do think the addition of Vauxhall product, replacing Sonic, will help and wish the same would happen in North America.
Yes we will have to buy imports as we will have no locally made cars but who says we will buy anything from the GM line up scott3? GM has failed to understand the loyalty of us Holden buyers to the locally made product, once that is gone how do you think sales will fare?
A precautionary tale GM, don’t make the same mistake in Canada. Customers want vehicles produced by their neighbours. Build where you sell.
I think that the Australians would get even more of a morale booster if GM would let them build cars. Is that too simplistic? I think it would also be less of a slap in the face than telling them, “Oh, we know what you like so we’re gonna built it over here and send it to you.”
Just goes to show that the “old” GM is still lurking in the “new” GM. Anyone with more than 2 brain cells working in tandem could have predicted this! The Holden slogan “We’re still here” deserves an answer – “What the f.ck for”
Continuing Saga: GM underestimates…… (add whatever it is at the time) because they seem to have a hard time getting a lot of things right anymore. Big Bummer.
You mean ripping the manufacturing heart out of a country has adverse affects on consumers opinions towards a brand? I’m sure all the engineers with their MBA’s (the most dangerous people in manufacturing) did all of their cost analysis and came to the right conclusions; After all, numbers are infallible. I spent 16 years working for Chrysler (plant closed in 2010) and have been with GM for a couple of years, and where me make products definitely influences (influenced) what I bought and what I buy to this day. Economic Nationalism is, somehow, a dirty word to the ivy tower corporate folks.
Calm down. Holden is and will be. Where else will not take over the Australian Holden himself. the story would be the Opel and Vauxhall. However, the restructuring and holden holden operates on. Opel is also closed factories and lay off workers, as well as other brands.
Was it moved to asia?
Manufacturing is the pride of any Country. Just look at the photos and articles when the first Holden 48-215 rolled of the Production Line. National Pride is going to take a dent when Holden and Ford (and Toyota) close. No doubt we, the consumers, are as much to blame for our changing tastes, but so is Holden and Ford for not producing what the buyer wants. Ford was never going to export the Falcon, even in LHD, with a unique L6 engine. As for me, a typical life long loyal Holden supporter and consumer, there is nothing Holden can sell me after they close that comes close to my preference for a large RWD SEDAN with decent pulling and cruising power. They have one last new car to sell me next year and after that, I will choose from whoever can satisfy my taste and requirements (Hyundai). I can’t imagine a 2 door RWD sports car is going to tow the trailers or handle the kids (not in the trailers) AND I won’t be able to afford it anyway. Be honest. AND yes Mr. JACOBY, you underestimated loyalty.
yes indeed !!! I’m currently driving a VE SV6 Sportswagon I bought new (NEW) !!! before this was several Holdens and a couple were also new. Once Holden stops manufacturing then I stop buying Holden. I’m loyal to the Aussie Holden .. not to a Opel !!!!!
I grew up GM, that is what my dad bought. I buy GM, that is how I was raised. When my purchases were built in Oshawa, I thought that was great. When a couple were built in the US, I was okay with that, as the models weren’t built in Oshawa. Now that my current Silverado was built in Mexico, the only thing keeping me GM is a lot of the parts are tagged made in Canada/US.
Where my next truck is built would triumph over a new and shiny imported trinket tossed at me to appease me, that is all a V8 powered sports coupe would be to me, a truck buyer.
I am quite sad about the shutdown, but that won’t be my main reason for not buying another new GM offering.
I have either bought or leased 6 new Holden Commodore Wagons in the last 15 years and I have 3 classic Holdens from the 70’s. I wont detail the backlist of others I’ve owned. I currently lease a VF SS-V Sportwagon and plan on buying a new one in November.
What will fill this segment after 2017? Everything else on the current and proposed inventory leaves me cold. None of the cars in the material I have seen come close to what I have now, GM are abandoning me not just my country!
There’s an old saying that “The people you stand on on the way up, you’ve got to talk to on the way down” I think Gerry found that out, but Stephan is yet to. The arrogance of the man when he came to The Bend to explain the situation to us
was a disgrace. He obviously had no idea who he was dealing with. It certainly comes as no surprise to me that the punters don’t want what they’re offering.
Mate your the guys i feel the worst for, i cant imagine the pride you must have had in being part of the Holden process no matter what part you were in. I will feel even worse for the sales and design team people that are left when GM bombs after 2017 and they lose their jobs as well. From a loyal Holden man for my entire life who has owned a new locally built model every year or 2nd year for 18 years now i sincerely apologize that i wont be able to help support your jobs once manufacturing ends by purchasing another vehicle from GM, the only thing that remotely interests me is a corvette but if i wanted a corvette i would all ready have one. Sad times for the workers and the consumers both.
Yes.. It is interesting that we’ve just had our flag waving Australia Day and here we are talking about the demise of a national iconic brand. We put a lot of our lives into the Holden car development because we were all car guys. Nothing was too much trouble. Unfortunately the used car salesmen have taken over and we are where we are. The guys with vision have it smacked out of them.
Hope you land on your feet after it all ends mate, if i cant have a real Holden then my next wish is that all of you that made them for us end up happy and healthy with a new job.
Thanks David.. That’s very decent of you!
There wasn’t much support from your PM in OZ when I saw him drive up to the memorial service in Canberra in a BMW of all things. The only one that was driven to the service in an Ozzy car was the Governor General and he stood with all the diggers in the rain with no umbrella. A true Bloke!
Still waiting to see this RWD Sports Car Stefan. Oh yeah, and thanks for the Opel product – thanks going down the drain hole. Seems you also have a bit of a problem with Right Hand Drive – Shutting up shop there as well ?. So what do you intend to try to sell me. You underestimated BIG time. Farewell Holden – it’s only a matter of time and please turn off the lights on your way out -apparently we’re heading for Power Shortages this summer. BTW Malcolm – I haven’t forgotten who pushed the issue regarding Car Manufacturing in this country – an election is inevitable.