Wednesday, May 9, 2018


My good friend, Paul Gover (below right), Australia’s most senior, and highly-respected automotive journalist, has written a landmark article for the CarSales website, and it is must reading for Holden enthusiasts.

Copy and paste this link to read the story: 

In the story he highlights the plight of the Holden brand, and the difficulties Holden faces in trying to convince Australians that the German-built ZB Commodore is an appropriate replacement for the locally-produced car of the same name. Clearly, it’s not.

Automotive writers, whilst supportive of the new car, in their more truthful moments are admitting it has failed to meet sales expectations. In fact the problems begin with customers' expectations of what a 'new' Commodore would and should be.

It’s a German-built, front-wheel-drive lightweight sedan - nothing like its predecessor - a balls-and-all rear wheel drive, powerful competitor in the mid-size market. 

Of course, short term history tells us the three-card-trick isn’t working, because dealership floor traffic has apparently stopped dead.

Australians have rejected the new Commodore, and the company’s market share (which Holden was confident would remain above 8%) has dropped to 4.7% - and may dip lower as the months go on.

The only way to dig itself out of this hole is to be totally transparent with potential customers, but this sort of openess doesn't play well in the Board Room. Topline management are rarely brave enough to do this. But, if not, the suffering continues. Simply throwing money at the problem will not solve it.

It needs real imagination!

Holden is in BIG trouble. The Chairman Mark Bernhard knows it, and Paul Gover said that during his interview Bernhard’s body language revealed both his frustrations, and lack of enthusiasm for the task ahead.

Holden is approaching a crucial bend in the road ahead, and a T-junction. Which way will it go? 

In the past weeks it has brought two ‘old Holden’ hands back to Melbourne to try and stop further market share erosion. Kristian Aquilina will take over Marketing, and longtime sales chief, Peter Keley will again take over Sales. These two men are top performers in their field, and already have runs on the board, but will it be enough?

I believe Holden Design Director Richard Ferlazzo (right) will shortly be assigning a team to visit the Groupe PSA Design Centre at Vélizy, just outside Paris (below), to discuss design direction for a possible Commodore update.

PSA has proposed it will transition the ZB from its Opel-derived legacy platform to the PSA EMP2 modular platform (right), which currently underpins the Peugeot 3008/5008 SUVs.

Whilst Holden's homegrown design group is clearly as talented as any in the world today, there is no shortage of design ideas for the successor to the Peugeot 508, which is the closest Peugeot sedan to the current ZB Commodore.

As I have said repeatedly in previous posts, even the most loyal GM-Holden staff and employees must now recognise the absolute folly of calling the ZB, a Commodore.

That single decision is probably the root cause of many of the problems Holden faces today.

I have had a long and harmonious affinity with many GM-Holden executives over the last 30 years, and for the sake of retaining a great Australian icon, I hope it survives.

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting article John, in line with your earlier Holden predictions/observations. It will be interesting to see if they can turn around Holden's fortunes . . .

    I'm interested in your opinion on the new Bentley Continental GT which has just been released . . . . also also the new Rolls Royce block of flats which has had some photos leaked.