Friday, November 2, 2018


On April 16, 2017, based on my own intelligence sources, and my extensive industry background, I forecast that the current Commodore and Astra would disappear once Holden’s supply contract with Groupe PSA ended.

I also forecast other dire outcomes.

I even predicted the eventual departure of CEO Mark Bernhard.

That decision to terminate PSA supply means that by 2023, Holden will not offer any passenger cars in its lineup – with perhaps the exception being the next iteration of Cruze - and GM’s electric cars Bolt and Volt (well, maybe).

Like Ford in the USA, Holden will become a pure SUV/Truck company, with passenger cars represented by Cruze/Volt/Bolt, and the Chevrolet Camaro.

As we know, from 2019 Ford in the USA will only offer the Focus and the Mustang.

The Holden outcome was essentially confirmed by new Holden CEO, David Buttner, last week, during a press conference in Melbourne to launch the Holden-badged Buick Acadia 7-seat SUV.

It really doesn’t matter how much lipstick you apply to the Holden pig, its business strategy has been drastically force-changed by market conditions, shifting consumer preferences, and Holden management’s complete and total ineptitude – in the period leading up to the end of full vehicle manufacturing in Australia.

Holden, like every carmaker competing in the Australian market, could see the rapid shift to SUVs, and desertion from passenger cars – but Holden was wedded to its local Commodore, and then the future prospect of introducing ’22 new models’, many of which were passenger cars. The dye had been cast and to be fair, there was little Holden could do about it.

It’s the chasm between GM’s HQ management, and Holden’s position, 10,000km away from Detroit, which has led to chaos, confusion and a complete disconnect with Australian market.

I wish the new Holden CEO Dave Buttner very good luck in trying to resuscitate Holden back to anything like its previously dominant position in the Australian market. Everybody observing Holden’s dive from dominant, to down-the-slippery-slope incinerator-potential, must be incredulous at how this so-called professional car company has let its grasp on the market disintegrate.

It is a national tragedy for the Australian automotive industry, and for business students it’s an outstanding case study of how NOT to run a company facing, and executing a massive transition.

I now predict that if you continue to check the Top Ten brands in Australia, it could be two years or more before Holden appears again – unless its SUVs and trucks enjoy a massive sales boost which may lift them onto the list.

However, I spotted a subtle flagging in a recent press release from tiny HSV in September this year, announcing the launch of the Generation 6 Chevrolet Camaro. In the release, then CEO Mark Bernhard is quoted as welcoming the Chevrolet brand back to Australia:

Holden’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, said the new agreement was a pivotal step forward for both companies:

“For a number of years, we’ve been talking about bringing customers the best vehicles from around the GM world, and today we’re proud to announce the next step in that strategy

 Our partnership with HSV, utilising their world-class engineering and design capabilities, means we’re able to work together to bring the iconic Chevrolet Camaro muscle-car and the best-selling Chevrolet Silverado pick-up to customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Today is a great day for customers”. 

In terms of vehicle branding, Bernhard also confirmed that the two Chevrolet vehicle lines would be introduced as just that: Chevrolets.

Pardon me for being cynical, but this ‘official’ re-launch of Chevrolet to Australia (under the auspices of a GM-linked company) provides GM with the potential to re-brand Holden (to Chevrolet), if Holden’s sales, brand recognition and loyalty goes further south.

I am certain Dave Buttner is more than capable of managing this sad situation, however, maybe the downward spiral has already gone too far, too fast, to allow a rescue, of the degree which would impress GM’s head honcho Mary Barra.

It’s also still possible, in the next 5-10 years that she, or her successor,  will call ‘time’ on Holden, and the brand will then dominate just the history books. 

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