Despite retiring the Holden brand name, forcing the 180 dealers to close up shop, General Motors does have a plan to sell cars in Australia. The hints are contained in the somewhat ambiguous wording of its recent press statement announcing Holden’s demise.
GM president, and former Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Reuss said: “We do believe we have an opportunity to profitably grow the specialty vehicle business, and plan to work with our partner to do that.”
|GM 'specialty vehicles'|
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Camaro; Silverado; Acadia; Corvette C8
Okay, here’s the translation: General Motors has an existing contract with Walkinshaw Automotive (owned by the widow and son of former racing driver, the late Tom Walkinshaw), which already carries out RHD conversions on the Chevrolet Camaro and Silverado pickup – and this business will continue.
Also, the Chevrolet Corvette C8 (which is already engineered for RHD) will be produced in the USA at the Corvette facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The GMC Acadia is also produced in RHD, in Tennesee, which means that GM vehicles could continue to be sold in Australia in low, but profitable volumes.
Buyers will access whatever models are involved in this plan through those Holden dealers which are already signed up as distributors with Walkinshaw Automotive.
Holden’s acting Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said:
“If there is a presence, and there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge, and I don’t want this to be a distraction from the bigger message from today and Holden’s announcement, but if there is an ongoing presence it will be a very minimal one, he said. “It is already in its infancy and we are not sure how it will progress.”
According to my source in the USA, the departure from RHD markets was conceived well before GM’s plan to sell its European operations to Groupe PSA, but as Holden’s market share headed below 4%, and sales of its Commodore and Astra models had stalled, it was time to pull the pin.
Selling its Thailand factory, which was responsible for RHD versions of Colorado, to China’s Great Wall Motors, was a major factor in GM shutting down Holden.
Holden was just not selling enough vehicles to be able to survive, and was unprofitable to sustain.