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    William Maley

    The Final Curtain: Holden Ends Manufacturing In Australia

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      69 Years and 7,687,675 Vehicles Built


    At 10:45 AM this morning at Holden's Elizabeth plant in South Australia, the final Australian-built vehicle rolled down the assembly line - a VF II SS V Redline complete with six-speed manual. The vehicle marked the end of 69 years of Holden production in Australia with 7,687,675 vehicles built. It also marks the end of Australian car production with Ford ending theirs last year and Toyota wrapping up a few weeks ago.

    Holden held a private ceremony at the plant for the 945 workers where they saw the final Commodore and three other models; Caprice V, SS Ute, and a Commodore Calais V V6 (the only model fitted with an Australian-built engine). The final four will become part of Holden's heritage collection and be shown at a heritage display on the Elizabeth site.

    “The passion and dedication of the team here is second to none, it has been an honour to work alongside them. In the final years of production, we have been building categorically the best-quality cars to ever roll out of this plant, and our last car was our best. Together we achieved a string of productivity and quality awards in recent times, doing so during the closure period is testament to the skills, professionalism and dedication of the team,” said Holden’s Executive Director of Manufacturing, Richard Phillips in a statement.

    “Right after supporting our people comes ensuring we set Holden up for success for many years to come. The best way we can honour our people and our heritage is by building a successful future and that’s exactly what we’ll be focused on when Monday rolls around. Today, however, is about paying tribute to the generations of men and women across Holden and our supply network who have given so much to our company. Holden is the icon it is today only because of these passionate people. On behalf of everyone at Holden, I thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart,” said Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard.

    Holden will still maintain a major presence in the country with a design and engineering center in Port Melbourne, the Lang Lang Proving Grounds in Victoria, and a sales office. Holden is also planning a major product offensive with 24 new products to be launched by 2020, including a rumored Camaro. But there are concerns about the long-term ramifications of the loss of Australian manufacturing, along with whether or not Holden can make any inroads with this ambitious product plan.

    “It’s probably going to be an emotional day. It’s not the easiest thing, but life will go on,” said Kane Butterfield, a paint shop worker at the plant to Drive.com.au.

    “It’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go one of the best cars around the world. It’s an absolute tragedy.”

    Author's Note: Wheels Magazine has a live blog chronicling the final day of production at Elizabeth which you can check out here. Also, you can see our review of the 2015 Chevrolet SS here.

    Source: CarAdvice, Drive.com.au, Motoring, News.com.au, Wheels Magazine, Holden
    Press Release is on Page 2


    HOLDEN HONOURS ITS MANUFACTURING LEGACY; COMPLETES TRANSFORMATION TO SALES, ENGINEERING AND DESIGN BUSINESS

    • Holden honours 69 years of local manufacturing, culminating in more than 7.6 million vehicles built for Australia and the world  
    • Company pays tribute to the generations of people within Holden and the supply chain who helped build a legend
    • Holden to honour that legacy by building a bright future in Australia; company retains 1000 direct staff plus 6000 people across 200-strong national dealer network
    • Lion brand to retain world-class Design and Engineering teams working on local and global programs; retention of Lang Lang Vehicle Proving Ground ensures Holdens will always drive and feel like Holdens should
    • New vehicle onslaught continues with ongoing commitment to launch 24 new products by 2020, completely transforming Holden showrooms 
    • Holden’s world-class transition program has resulted in 85% of Holden workers to date successfully transitioning, setting a new benchmark in the industry 

    GM Holden today celebrated nearly 70 years of proud manufacturing heritage with the final Holden Commodore rolling off the Elizabeth line today at 10.45am (Adelaide time). A private ceremony for employees was held today to mark Holden’s proud manufacturing history and pay tribute to the generations of hard-working men and women who literally built the Holden legend.

    From the very first Holden 48-215 to roll off the Fishermans Bend production line on 29 November 1948, to the final VFII Commodore Redline to come out of the Elizabeth factory on 20 October 2017, Holden has been a part of the fabric of Australia and that’s an honoured position that the Lion brand is committed to keeping for many years to come.

    Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, said: “Treating our people with dignity and respect was always our number one priority during this transition and we’re all proud we were able to achieve that, we see it as recognition of their dedicated service over the years. With 85 per cent of all workers to date successfully transitioning, we’ve worked closely with our people to support them.
    “Holden also appreciates the partnership and assistance of the state and federal governments, along with the unions, over many years.

    “Right after supporting our people comes ensuring we set Holden up for success for many years to come. The best way we can honour our people and our heritage is by building a successful future and that’s exactly what we’ll be focused on when Monday rolls around.

    “Today, however, is about paying tribute to the generations of men and women across Holden and our supply network who have given so much to our company. Holden is the icon it is today only because of these passionate people. On behalf of everyone at Holden, I thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart,” said Mr Bernhard.

    Holden’s award-winning employee transition centre will remain open on the Elizabeth site for at least two years’ post factory-closure to ensure all Holden and supply chain employees have the best possible chance to successfully transition.

    Holden’s Executive Director of Manufacturing, Richard Phillips, paid tribute to the people and achievements of the Elizabeth plant: “The passion and dedication of the team here is second to none, it has been an honour to work alongside them. In the final years of production, we have been building categorically the best-quality cars to ever roll out of this plant, and our last car was our best. Together we achieved a string of productivity and quality awards in recent times, doing so during the closure period is testament to the skills, professionalism and dedication of the team.”

    Looking to the future, Holden will remain a diversified business and a powerhouse of the Australian automotive industry for many years to come. Employing approximately 1000 direct employees in Melbourne and across national zone offices, Holden will also retain its highly-skilled Design and Engineering teams, working on local and global vehicle and transportation programs. This includes retention of Holden’s world-renowned Design Studios and the famous Lang Lang vehicle Proving Ground near Melbourne in Victoria.

    This is in addition to the nearly 6000 people employed across Holden’s 200-strong national dealer network, ensuring Holden’s customers are continued to be looked after and all warranty and spare parts needs continue to be met as they always have been.

    Over the past two years, Holden has outlined its future path and strategic priorities:

    • Beyond October 20, Holden will continue to employ approximately 1000 direct staff and an additional nearly 6000 people across its 200-strong national dealer network.
    • Holden will launch 24 major vehicles and 36 new drivetrain combinations by 2020.
    • Holden will have a world-class and diverse SUV line-up, including the all-new Equinox hitting showrooms in November 2017 and the all-new Acadia SUV in 2018.
    • The esteemed Commodore nameplate will live on in 2018.
    • Holden will introduce a true V8, rear-drive sports car to Australia. We are building Holden’s biggest and best vehicle range ever: a true product onslaught.
    • Holden is taking a leadership position with next-generation mobility technology through Maven and OnStar, and an ability to capitalise on GM’s leadership in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology.   
    • Holden will retain a Design and Engineering workforce of approximately 350 people beyond 2017, working on local and global programs.  
    • Holden vehicles will continue to be tuned and tested for Australian conditions and customers with the retention of the famous Lang Lang Proving Ground in Victoria;
    • Holden’s world-class Global Design Centre continues to contribute to, design and execute local and global product programs, such as the Buick Avenir and Opel GT.
    • Home Ground Advantage, Holden’s $5 million / 10-year commitment to grass roots sporting clubs has been a huge success with more than 3000 entries to date.  

    Edited by William Maley

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    • By William Maley
      Nearly three years after ending local production in Australia, General Motors announced this morning in Australia that Holden will cease to exist by the end of the year. The move will see 800 jobs going away and the closure of the Melbourne design studio and Lang Lang proving ground. In a statement, GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said the company made the difficult decision to close operations after varying attempts to try and rejuvenate the brand.
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      “After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritize the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally,” said Blissett.
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      Holden Customer Care is available to answer customer inquiries and all warranties and service agreements. Holden customers in Australia can call 1800 46 465 336 or visit www.holden.com.au; Holden customers in New Zealand can call 0800 465 336 or visit www.holden.co.nz.

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    • By William Maley
      Nearly three years after ending local production in Australia, General Motors announced this morning in Australia that Holden will cease to exist by the end of the year. The move will see 800 jobs going away and the closure of the Melbourne design studio and Lang Lang proving ground. In a statement, GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said the company made the difficult decision to close operations after varying attempts to try and rejuvenate the brand.
      “Over recent years, as the industry underwent significant change globally and locally, we implemented a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business, together with the local team.”
      “After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritize the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally. This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team,” explained Blissett.
      A source tells CarAdvice that the decision to shutter Holden took place over the weekend, and also stressed that GM had "every intention of reviving the brand following the end of local manufacturing."
      "Our intention was to turn around the brand ... there is zero blame to the local team," said the high ranking General Motors official. "This decision (about Holden) is all about investment priorities."
      The decision to close down operations in Australia will also mark the end of right-hand drive vehicles which comprised of Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. GM has been pulling out of RHD markets for the past three years with the United Kingdom and India being some of the big ones.
      Holden hasn't been doing so well in sales since the end of local production. The past couple of years has seen the brand hemorrhaging sales as buyers went towards SUVs and smaller vehicles. A key example of the bleeding, the ZB Commodore only sold 5,915 units last year - a decrease of 34.6 percent.
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      Press Release on Page 2


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      GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said GM had taken the difficult decision after implementing and considering numerous options to maintain and turn around Holden operations.
      “Through its proud 160-year history, Holden has not only made cars, it has been a powerful driver of the industrialization and advancement of Australia and New Zealand,” said Blissett.
      “Over recent years, as the industry underwent significant change globally and locally, we implemented a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business, together with the local team.”
      GM undertook a detailed analysis of the investment required for Holden to be competitive beyond the current generation of products. Factors impacting the business case for further investment included the highly fragmented right-hand-drive markets, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment.
      “After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritize the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally,” said Blissett.
      “This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team.”
      GM intends to focus its growth strategy in Australia and New Zealand on the specialty vehicles business and plans to immediately work with its partner on developing these plans.
      GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina said that given the significance of Holden through its history, it was critical the company worked with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful wind-down.
      “Holden will always have a special place in the development of our countries. As Australia and New Zealand grew, Holden was a part of the engine room fuelling that development,” said Aquilina.
      “Today’s announcement will be felt deeply by the many people who love Holdens, drive Holdens and feel connected to our company which has been with us for 160 years and is almost ubiquitous in our lives.
      “Unfortunately, all the hard work and talent of the Holden family, the support of our parent company GM and the passion of our loyal supporters have not been enough to overcome our challenges.
      “We understand the impact of this decision on our people, our customers, our dealers and our partners – and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful transition.”
      Holden customers can be assured that the company will honour all warranties and servicing offers made at time of sale. Holden will provide servicing and spare parts for at least 10 years, through national aftersales networks in Australia and New Zealand. As required, Holden and its aftersales network will also continue to handle any recalls or safety-related issues if they arise, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.
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      Source: Australian Financial Review (Subscription Required), CarAdvice, CarsGuide

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      It hasn't been an easy go for Holden for almost the last decade. Sales have been declining for the past eight years and buyers haven't been wowed by either the new Commodore or their growing lineup of crossovers. This has reportedly brought the vultures out.
      The Australian Financial Review reported yesterday that Inchcape, one of the largest independent vehicle importers has started discussions with General Motors about possibly taking over the importation of Holden vehicles. According to sources, the talks are going very slowly and there are "extreme sensitivities on both sides of the negotiating table." The talks will not include the transfer of Holden's engineering and design offices, along with the Lang Lang Proving Grounds. Inchcape has also hired one of the largest accounting firms to perform due diligence and looking into various scenarios. 
      The likely reason Inchcape is looking into this possibility is due to GM's restructuring plans. Already, the company has pulled out certain markets and is planning to possibly shut down various plants in the U.S.
      Inchcape handles the import and retail duties for a number of automakers such as Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and more in 32 countries. In Australia, Inchcape handles Citroen, Peugeot, and Subaru.
      "Under the leadership of [GM Holden CEO] Dave Buttner, who was appointed in August last year, we are turning around the Holden business, growing sales, re-engaging and re-energizing our distribution network and launching exciting vehicles like the all-new Acadia. We are fully focused on supporting Dave in building a strong Holden for the future, as it remains an important part of GM's business," a spokesman for GM told the outlet.
      When reached by CarsGuide for a comment, a spokesperson for Inchcape said, "We are always assessing a range of opportunities and initiatives in support of our Ignite strategy and we do not comment on speculation."
      Source: Australian Financial Review (Subscription Required), CarAdvice, CarsGuide
    • By William Maley
      2018 has not been kind to Holden. Sales have been stagnant and the brand saw its worst monthly sales of 3,927 cars in July. Market share has also been dropping to below five percent during the year. Now, the brand has halted production of the Commodore and Equinox in an effort to reduce a massive stockpile of vehicles.
      According to Wheels, Holden ordered way too many vehicles before it ceased local manufacturing in late 2017. But the past year has proven to be difficult with sales dropping and causing vehicles to sit in paddocks and holding yards, gathering dust.
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