The Holden brand will disappear at the end of the year after its owner General Motors announced it will no longer make cars suitable for New Zealand roads.

American-based General Motors announced on Monday it would stop producing right-hand drive vehicles.

GM earlier pulled back from local manufacturing. The last Australian-built Holden rolled off the assembly line in 2017 after the Turnbull government axed a long-standing subsidy scheme.

The company blamed "significant change globally and locally", which despite implementing "a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business", for the ultimate demise of the struggling Holden brand.


GM international operations senior vice president Julian Blissett said it was a difficult decision to finally close the doors at Holden.

"Through its proud 160-year history, Holden has not only made cars, it has been a powerful driver of the industrialisation and advancement of Australia and New Zealand.

"After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritise 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."

Holden customers' warranties and servicing offers made at time of sale will still be honoured.

Holden will also 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.

Late last year the company also announced it would stop selling its most iconic car, the Commodore.


Kristian Aquilina, GM Holden interim chairman and managing director, said despite all the hard work and talent of the Holden family, and the passion of its loyal supporters, it had not "been enough to overcome our challenges".

"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.

"Today's announcement will be felt deeply by the many people who love Holdens, drive Holdens and feel connected to our company."

Aquilina said it was critical the company worked with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful wind-down.

Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said he couldn't comment on the Holden announcement specifically or what might happen to dealerships.

However, manufacturers were facing greater costs to meet more stringent safety and environmental standards. Holden was operating in a regional market that was getting smaller.

Other manufacturers were facing similar challenges.

''In the next decade there will be rationalisation of brands and mergers to keep as profitable businesses,'' said Crawford.

Fourth in market

New vehicle registration data collected by the Motor Industry Association showed that Holden was the fourth best-selling brand of 2019, with 12,026 registrations or 8 per cent of the market.

Going forward, GM intends to focus its growth in New Zealand and Australia on specialty vehicles such as the Camaro and the upcoming Corvette, Blissett said.

This opens the possibility of importing and re-engineering other American-only offerings that we previously didn't get down here.

Will stand by warranties

Dealers contacted by the Herald did not want to comment, referring the Herald to Holden NZ.

Holden NZ general manager corporate affairs GM Ed Finn messaged the Herald: "We stand by our products and Holden owners will continue to be supported by a national aftersales network for at least 10 years. Customers can be assured that Holden will honour all warranties and servicing agreements, as well as providing spare parts, repair, service and any required recall or field actions.

"Holden will work with its dealer network on appropriate transition arrangements, including offering dealers the opportunity to continue as authorised service outlets to support Holden customers."

There would be a "respectful transition."

Holden did not immediately put any communication to customers about the GM announcement on the home page of its NZ website.

GM has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1500 in Thailand which it will sell to China's Great Wall Motors, the Associated Press reported.

The company said it will scale back operations in all three countries to selling niche specialty vehicles. It also will make the same move in Japan, Russia and Europe, where it didn't have significant scale.

GM expects to take $US1.1 billion ($1.7b) worth of cash and noncash charges this year as it cuts operations in the three countries.

GM has a long history in Australia with the Holden brand, where cars were designed and sold in the US and other markets.

The 2008 and 2009 Pontiac G8 muscle car, for instance, was designed as a Holden Commodore and built in Australia.

But government subsidies for manufacturing plants in Australia have been steadily withdrawn and the company has struggled. GM said Holden's market share, which was nearly 22 per cent in 2002, fell to just over 4 per cent last year.

Ford pays tribute to Holden

Ford Australia took to Twitter to pay tribute to its on-track rival following the news of Holden ceasing operations in New Zealand and Australia.

"All of us here at Ford Australia are saddened to hear the news that Holden will cease operations. Holden is an iconic brand that holds a special place in the heart of many Australians, and has done so much to shape the Australian automotive industry and the country.

"Its vehicles have been worthy competitors both on road and on the racetrack. To our friends at Holden, thank you for keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher. We will miss you."