GM-Holden Elizabeth Plant
The GM-Holden Elizabeth facility, often referred to as the Holden Elizabeth plant, is located in Elizabeth, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. The plant currently produces the Holden Commodore range/Chevrolet SS Sedan as well as the Holden Caprice/Chevrolet Caprice PPV. The plant is set to be closed in October 2017.
- Opened: 1963
- Address: 180 Philip Highway, Elizabeth South Australia 5112, Australia
- Closed: October 20, 2017
The construction of the Elizabeth plant commenced in May 1958, with the groundbreaking celebration — a ceremonial pouring of concrete — witnessed by Managing Director Earl Daum. The plant’s body hardware plant opened in 1960 while the body and vehicle assembly plant opened in 1962. Queen Elizabeth visited and toured the plant in 1963.
Since being opened, the Elizabeth plant has played an important part in the development of GM-Holden. The facility has undergone continual revisions, upgrades and modernization over the years until its closure in October 2017.
In December 2013, GM-Holden announced that it would transition to a national sales company and full-line importer in Australia and New Zealand by the end of 2017. The transition calls for the closure of all manufacturing operations in Australia, including vehicle production at the Elizabeth plant and engine production at the Port Melbourne plant. It also calls for a reduction of engineering operations in the country.
According to GM-Holden, 2,900 jobs would be lost over four years — 1,600 from Elizabeth and 1,300 from Victoria, which housed Holden’s Port Melbourne plant.
The first step in winding down the Elizabeth plant was the discontinuation of Holden Cruze production in October 2016. Then, in January 2017, Holden announced that October 20th, 2017 will be the last day of production for the vehicles that were still being built at the plant — the Zeta platform Commodore and Caprice.
The cessation of manufacturing operations in the Elizabeth plant makes Holden the last automaker to shutter its manufacturing base in Australia, with Ford being first to do so, and Toyota being second.
Reasons For Closure
Though GM-Holden did not share official reasons for its transition into a national sales company, it is believed that the following factors played into the decision:
- A lack of import tariffs, making it attractive to import vehicles into Australia rather than build them locally
- An extremely strong Australian dollar, bringing the price of imported vehicles to a 30-year low
- High labor costs in Australia which, coupled with a strong Australian dollar, makes it financially unattractive to operate a plant in the country
- Low demand in the local market, making it financially unattractive to operate a plant dedicated to producing vehicles for Australia
In 2011, the Elizabeth plant began assembling the compact Cruze car range 2011, creating 400 jobs in South Australia.
The-then Prime Minister Julia Gillard drove the first Cruze off the production line in February 2011, 24 years after the Holden Camira and 11 years after the four-cylinder Holden Vectra were assembled locally.
Based on GM’s Delta platform, the Cruze saw initial sales surge, followed by a nosedive thanks to the combination of a strong Australian dollar and an artificially-devalued Japanese yen. The circumstance saw the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla rocket to the top of Australia’s new-car sales charts — ending the Holden Commodore’s 15-year winning streak in the process.
On October 7th, 2016, Elizabeth workers built Holden’s last locally-made four-cylinder car: a Cruze SRI Z-series hatchback. The milestone came 50 years after the first four-cylinder Holden Torana and 41 years after the iconic Holden Gemini arrived in Australia. A total of 126,225 units of the Holden Cruze were built.
Holden Elizabeth plant operations director Shaun Calvert stated that workers felt a sense of history and pride during the bittersweet moment in Holden’s journey.
“This morning that pride, mixed with some sadness, will be felt by everyone as the final two Cruze vehicles — a hatch and sedan — will be driven off our assembly line,” wrote Mr. Calvert upon the shut-down of the Cruze line at the Elizabeth facility.
The final two cars were donated to the Leukaemia Foundation, which held a raffle using the two vehicles to raise funds for patient support services and research.
The end of Cruze production at Elizabeth resulted in 270 of the plant’s remaining 1,200 workers being made redundant. Holden says 78 percent of the 450 workers who have left the company in the past two years have either found jobs, retired or taken up studies.
The final batch of Zeta-based Commodores, Utes and Caprices is to roll off the line on October 20th, 2017.
The final 2017 model year Commodores receive a few changes including:
- Three new exterior colors:
- Light My Fire Orange
- Spitfire Green
- Son of a Gun Gray
- Minor styling adjustments for V8-powered models:
- Black wheels
- Black vents
- Black grills
- Restructuring of trim levels:
- Discontinuation of SS-V trim level, leaving SS and SS-V Redline
- Manual gearbox availability only with V8 sedans and utes
- Additional technology for models with V-6 engines, including:
- Heads-up display
- Navigation system
To send the VF Commodore off into the night with a bang, Holden and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) introduced several limited-edition models.
Holden limited-edition models:
- Commodore Motorsport Edition
- Commodore Magnum Edition
- Commodore Director Edition
HSV final-edition models:
- GTSR W1 (300 units slated for production)
- GTSR Range:
- GTSR Sedan (1,300 units slated for production)
- GTSR Maloo (670 units slated for production)
- 30 Year Range:
- Maloo R8
- Clubsport R8 LSA
- Senator SV
- Clubsport R8 Tourer
The GM-Holden Elizabeth plant produces the following vehicles:
- Holden Commodore range:
- Holden Commodore Sedan
- Holden Commodore Sportwagon
- Holden Ute
- Chevrolet SS Performance Sedan
- Holden Caprice / Chevrolet Caprice PPV
- Holden Cruze (discontinued October 2016)
Follow this link for GM-Holden Elizabeth plant news coverage.