After August, Holden will exist no more. GM, true to form, accepted billions in dosh before turning tail and running. A number of Australians complained about that. They should not be surprised. After American taxpayers bailed them out, they simply moved production to China to boost their profits and cut costs — the long-struggling Michigan and Ohio economies be damned.
Naturally, various excuses were made. The most pitiful one was that Holden struggled due to the fragmentation of right-hand-drive vehicle markets. Sure, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are no more geographically remote from each other than, say, North America, continental Europe and Brazil. Another slightly pitiful excuse was that it was difficult to keep a brand going when it only exited in two markets — Australia and New Zealand. That point is fairer, but it ignores the basic premise that Holden had, for a long time, been a repackaged Opel/Vauxhall with some Australian features.
Whatever one thinks, it’s a blow. Holden was well and truly an Australian icon. With the years, there is less and less that makes countries, societies distinct, that makes a region feel like a region. Holden was Australian, it was a part of Australian life and society. Now, it’s the same Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Hyundai or Lexus you can find anywhere.