HOLDEN has introduced the shock dumping of its best-known mannequin, the Commodore, in a cull of its passenger automobile line-up as the corporate turns itself right into a ute and SUV model.
The Astra small automobile can even be axed subsequent yr within the shake-up that comes as Holden gross sales hit historic lows in a slide accelerated by the demise of native manufacturing in 2017.
Aside from the Chevrolet Corvette that is because of come into the Holden portfolio subsequent yr, Holden showrooms might be stocked solely with SUVs such because the Equinox, Trailblazer, Acadia and Trax, as nicely because the Colorado ute, after the present crop of sedans and hatches runs out in 2020.
The choice was introduced by interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina who took the helm solely final week after the resignation of former Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner for private causes.
Referring to the market change from passenger vehicles in direction of SUVs and utes, Mr Aquilina stated the choice was in keeping with buyer preferences.
“Holden is taking this decisive motion to make sure a pointy concentrate on the most important and most buoyant market segments,” he stated.
“Thus far this yr SUVs and utes have elevated to 76 per cent of Holden gross sales, a pattern we solely see persevering with.”
The big-car section in Australia has fallen from 217,882 gross sales in 1998 to only 8700 items this yr, whereas SUV gross sales are approaching 500,000 and light-commercial autos greater than 200,000.
Mr Aquilina stated the choice to retire the Commodore nameplate had not been taken evenly.
“The big sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for many years,” he stated.
“However now with extra selection than ever earlier than, prospects are displaying a robust desire for the excessive driving place, performance and versatility of SUVs and utes.”
The choice is more likely to additional alienate rusted-on Holden followers who had been already miffed on the change from the normal regionally designed, regionally constructed rear-wheel-drive Commodore to the present front-wheel-drive, Opel-sourced ZB Commodore based mostly on the Opel/ Vauxhall Insignia.
The choice to hold over the Commodore title to the Insignia-based sedan and wagon was controversial, even inside Normal Motors the place a number of high-ranking world executives voiced concern that the new mannequin was not an actual Commodore.
Holden has offered greater than three million Commodores because the unique VB Commodore – itself based mostly on an Opel mannequin – was launched in 1978.
The Commodore was Australia’s best-selling automobile for 15 years straight, from 1996 to 2010, serving to to put Holden on the high of the Australian automobile gross sales tree.
However with the gradual shrinking of the large-car market, the Commodore fell from favour to the purpose the place Holden mother or father firm GM pulled the pin on Australian manufacturing, after attempting (unsuccessfully) to diversify into small vehicles with the regionally constructed Cruze.
Holden’s market share has since fallen dramatically, this yr retreating to an traditionally low four.1 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent final yr, and placing it in a lowly 10th place on the gross sales ladder.
The gross sales decline got here to a crunch final month when Holden offered simply 2668 autos – fewer than Mercedes-Benz – to garner solely three.1 per cent market share, its lowest market slice within the firm’s 71-year historical past.
Regardless of year-on-year gross sales falls, together with a 37 per cent tumble this yr, the Commodore, with 5417 gross sales within the yr thus far, remains to be Holden’s second-best vendor behind the Colorado and forward of all of the much-vaunted new SUVs.
Dropping the Commodore and Astra will put a 10,000-unit gap in annual Holden gross sales, worsening the slide earlier than it will get higher.
To assist clean the run-out for each fashions by way of 2020, Holden has slapped them with seven years of free schedule servicing, plus the identical seven-year guarantee as different 2019-plated Holden fashions.
Finally, Holden would have needed to resist the demise of the Commodore and Astra anyway, as GM has offered Opel to France’s PSA Group, which means the present fashions had been more likely to be the final from that supply.
The demise of Commodore additionally begs the query of what’s going to occur with Holden’s Supercars motor racing presence when the massive sedan has been a dominant performer for many years, profitable the Bathurst 1000 a file 26 occasions.
The Commodore will virtually definitely soldier on within the 2020 season, however a query mark hangs over future seasons.