Retirement of the Holden brand by the end of the year isn't the last we'll be seeing of the iconic lion.
General Motors announced on Monday that the popular marque is to be retired from sales here and in Australia, and local design and engineering operations will wind down by 2021. Up to 800 jobs are at stake.
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GM international operations and senior vice-president Julian Blissett said the decision was made after detailed analysis of the investment required for Holden to be competitive beyond the current generation of products.
"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," said Blissett.
Holden has assured New Zealand owners that servicing and spare parts will be provided for at least 10 years and all warranting and servicing offers made at the time of existing sales will be honoured.
The writing had been on the wall for some time for GM's right-hand-drive vehicles. Only New Zealand, Australia and Thailand were still taking right-hand vehicles, while left-hand-drive stock accounted for about three-quarters of GM's stock. Clearly, the outlay of manufacturing plants and all the added machinery and staff for such a small portion of the market, also in decline, has not stacked up for some time.
Interestingly, Holden has held market share in New Zealand comparatively well, even against Australia. New vehicle registrations for 2019 showed Toyota dominated with 30,140, Ford had 14,776, Mitsubishi 12,822 and Holden 12,026 ahead of Mazda with 10,998. Both the Colorado and Commodore were in the top 15 selling vehicles list for 2019.
GM's applying the brakes on Australasia was also presaged in December last year when it announced there would be no 2020 model Commodore. It has been two years since Australia's last Holden factory, at Elizabeth in north Adelaide, closed.
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In a way, this week's announcement is even sadder with the added closure of Holden's world renown Lang Lang Proving Ground, which was established in 1957. Says Driven deputy editor David Linklater: "Lang Lang is an unsung hero in the Holden world and it's been a globally significant centre for GM engineering for many decades".
But the world is turning as climate change demands technological change at an accelerating rate, and companies must be agile enough to move fast and, sometimes, hard.
"It's not making financial sense any more and they had to do something about it. Hard decisions had to be made," Murphy told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking on Tuesday morning.
Numbers had dwindled massively in Australia, down to 4 per cent market share, whereas New Zealand was around 8.5 per cent at last count.
No doubt, can-do Kiwis and obstinate Aussies will take it as a matter of honour to keep old Holdens on the road. As National MP Paula Bennett says: "It's iconic, it's grunty, it's fun."
The golden age of the Kiwi family-favourite may be slipping down the gears but the Holden will not go quietly.