General Motors gave Prime Minister Scott Morrison just three minutes’ notice of its decision to axe the Holden brand after 72 years.
Despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies over many decades, to keep its manufacturing afloat, GM showed little loyalty to the Australian government.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister confirmed the American car making giant emailed Mr Morrison on Monday afternoon just three minutes before issuing a media statement.
‘Pretty p*** poor effort,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
The PM’s policy adviser was given just 15 minutes notice.
General Motors gave Prime Minister Scott Morrison just three minutes’ notice of its decision to axe the Holden brand after 72 years. The PM is pictured getting out of a BMW 5-series
Despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies over many decades, to prop up its ailing manufacturing, GM showed little loyalty to the Australian government. Pictured are GM’s senior vice president Julian Blissett (right) and Holden’s interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina (left)
Little more than two years after Holden stopped making cars in Australia, GM announced it would retire the brand in both Australia and New Zealand from 2021, ending a tradition that began in 1948.
GM will not just axe the Holden name but also stop selling cars in Australia, the American auto giant’s international operations senior vice president Julian Blissett announced on Monday.
‘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,’ he said.
GM, headquartered in Detroit, is also ceasing design and engineering operations in Australia, leaving 600 people without work.
Most of the existing staff are set to lose their jobs by June but 200 would continue their employment for another decade to service existing Holdens on the road, GM told reporters on Monday.
‘This was an agonising decision for us and one we didn’t make lightly or easily,’ Mr Blissett said.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews, whose first car was a Holden Torana, expressed her misgivings at GM.
‘I’m very disappointed with the decision that Holden has made,’ she told reporters.
‘The Australian government in various forms has done a lot to support auto vehicle manufacturing here.’
The Holden car brand will be no more, with General Motors opting to dump the name synonymous with Australian motoring by 2021. Pictured is the last Holden Commodore at the Elizabeth plant in Adelaide, October 2017
The axing of the Holden nameplate will end a motoring tradition that began in November 1948 when the first 48-215 rolled off the production line at the Fisherman’s Bend factory in Melbourne.
General Motors’s Australian arm continued manufacturing cars for another 69 years, until the last Holden Commodore, the VF, was made in Adelaide in October 2017.
Just a decade ago, the Commodore was still Australia’s best-selling car, a position it had held uninterrupted for 15 unbroken years, as it outsold its traditional rear-wheel-drive rival, the Ford Falcon.
In December, Holden announced the Commodore nameplate would be axed in 2020 after 42 years being synonymous with V8 muscle and six-cylinder family cars.
The axing of the Holden nameplate will end a motoring tradition that began in November 1948 when the first 48-215 rolled off the production line at the Fisherman’s Bend factory in Melbourne. Pictured is then Labor prime minister Ben Chifley with the first-ever model
Australian motorists were lukewarm about the last Commodore – a rebadged Opel Insignia from Germany that was front-wheel drive.
A month later, Holden’s share of the Australian car market fell to a mere 3.7 per cent, barely scraping into the top ten, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data showed.
The Colorado was Holden’s only entry in the top 20 last year, with the Thai-built ute taking the 16th spot for 2019.
Its sales tally of 17,472 was two-and-a-half times less than the market leading Toyota Hilux, which had more takers than all the Holden models in Australia combined.
Holden, the maker of popular models including the Kingswood and Torana, was for many decades Australia’s most popular car brand, marketing itself during the 1970s as: ‘Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’.
Its market share has gradually eroded since Bob Hawke’s Labor government began to unwind Australia’s 57 per cent import tariffs from 1988.
Leo Pruneau, Holden’s chief designer during the 1970s and 1980s, last year told Daily Mail Australia GM was likely to axe the Holden brand in coming years.
Holden, the maker of popular models including the Kingswood and Torana, was for many decades Australia’s most popular car brand, Pictured is a 1968 Holden Premier outside the Elizabeth plant in October 2017, as local production ended
‘I would say 10 years we won’t see a Holden badge,’ he said.
‘It’s a really sad thing to say. There’s a good chance the Holden name could disappear altogether.’
He prediction came true, although it was far worse than he imagined with GM withdrawing from Australia altogether instead of selling its cars under a different name.
Holden began its life in 1856 as a saddlery and later assembled GM cars from the United States that had been sent to Australia in kit form, before making cars in its own right.
With the brand to die after 165 years, GM Holden’s interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina vowed to honour existing warranties and servicing obligations.
While the Holden name will be axe, GM may have a small presence in Australia, selling Corvettes through a small number of dealers.