Holden hasn’t fared well in Australia since local manufacturing ended in 2017. In New Zealand, things have been more positive, which outsiders have credited to smart advertising and marketing messages.
In the final year of VF Commodore sales, which boasted a V8 engine option, rear-wheel drive, and the iconic ute bodystyle, Holden sold 1,427 of them. In 2018, the ZB Commodore based on the Opel Insignia without a V8, ute, or RWD, sold 1,366 units. While that number is down, it’s not a shadow of the VF Commodore’s sales figure. Keep in mind, New Zealand is a small market, even compared to Australia. In February alone of this year, Holden sold 572 ZB Commodores.
Even in Australia, the new Commodore isn’t falling flat on its face. It remains the top-selling large car outside of premium brands like Mercedes-Benz. Even the lauded Kia Stinger hasn’t matched the Commodore, which sold just 158 units in February in Australia.
The kicker is one needs to realize Holden is no longer the Commodore Company any longer. Consumers have moved on from sedans, utes, and wagons, and have placed their needs in SUVs and pickups. Indeed, Holden New Zeland sold 4,583 Colorado pickups in 2018 compared to the 1,366 Commodores. That tells one everything he or she needs to know about the shifting tides in consumer preference.
Holden itself has said it will focus on SUVs and crossovers moving forward, and new chairman David Buttner has even put killing the Commodore on the table. The brand will take a hard look at the decisions it needs to make based on vehicle sales and other factors in the future.