Holden is in a strange game of limbo currently. The brand is beginning to receive the newest additions to its lineup via its new strategic partner, Opel. At the same time, Holden is trying to maintain relevance with its historic Commodore nameplate and other Australian-built vehicles. This makes for tough times to define what the brand is, and where it’s headed in the future.
Peter Keley, Holden executive director of sales, acknowledges these strange times and calls the coming months the toughest period the brand will see. Manufacturing will begin to slow immensely as the brand winds down production further to shut its doors by the end of 2017, and production as already begun its scaling back process.
Contrary to what you may believe, Keley forecasts a sales boost towards the end of local manufacturing as buyers scoop up the final iterations of its locally built vehicles, particularly the VF Commodore. In maintaining relevance of its products, a plethora of special edition vehicles have been introduced.
Just the VF Commodore alone has seen the Sandman, International, Collingwood, Craig Lowndes, Lightning and Storm special editions to rally buyers into dealerships, and it sounds like more will be on the way.
“It’s reasonably well known that there will be another upgrade of Commodore,” Keley said. “Once you get into that model, people start to feel as though they’re buying into that last Commodore. I think after that, the sales will be quite steady,” Keley told Drive.
Keley is referring to the 2016 Holden Commodore Series II, which will be the last locally-developed, locally-manufactured Commodore. The 2016 Commodore Series II will see a host of minor upgrades, and possibly the addition of the 6.2-liter LS3 V8.
Despite the most recent poor sales figures (Commodore sales fell to sixth place at 2,043 vehicles sold) Keley says the brand is on target for where they want to be during the turbulent times, within 1 to 2 percent of company targets. He mentions increased confidence internally about the direction Holden is headed in the future, and is confident the brand will have no problem selling the last batch of locally-manufactured cars.
Keley reflects the type of tone needed internally inside Holden. Appreciative of the brand’s legacy, but confident in where the roaring line points its compass in the future. Brighter days are ahead for the brand, despite the bitter taste left by the lack of locally produced vehicles.
“I don’t think people want us to meekly go away into the sunset, because that does a disservice to the legacy of a lot of hard work and a lot of talented people.”