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William Maley

The Final Curtain: Holden Ends Manufacturing In Australia

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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.  

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