Holden on no more.

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.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

7 thoughts on “Holden on no more.”

  1. And don’t forget Brunei, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, many countries in Africa and the West Indies also drive on the proper side of the road – which is of course the left! As you say: ‘It’s just an excuse’.

    However, there are only 800 employees, of which 200 will be kept on to provide ‘services’ to present owners – and hopefully Ford will take on some of the others.

    What really annoys me is that Holden (GM in disguise) took large sums of money from me (i.e the taxpayers) to remain in business here. While in theory I have no problem with Governments helping struggling businesses to survive – this should prove a wake-up call to all Governments – do not throw money at foreign companies to stay in business in your countries – let them sink… they have no commitment to the countries in which they operate.

  2. Boadicea: Many years ago I knew a a retired businesswoman who was much advanced in years. She was part of a small, but highly successful, family firm that had been around for generations. She told me over a decade ago that one thing she didn’t like was how many companies were merely becoming brands. When she was young, working for a company, working in a company meant for many being part of that company and most had pride in it. As companies became brands, there was less and less pride are identification. Even if a company remained largely autonomous, it was never quite the same. Everything she told me has been proven true.

    Holden has been in decline for some time. Looking at their final models, they were, well, whatever Chevrolet sold just with the Holden name. There is something incongruous about a Holden Colorado or Holden Malibu. That’s something you’d expect in Sonoma or Phoenix, not Geelong or Brisbane. What surprised me was that there were people in Australia who were surprised by GM’s actions. If they had asked Americans about GM, they would have told them what to expect. GM treated Australia just as dismally as it treated its workers and investors in the USA. A lot of Americans who grew up with Chevrolet or Cadillac will never buy another GM car because of what they did.

    Ford announced that it plans on investing A$500 million in the Australian market. Ford did not accept bailout money in the USA and sorted its own affairs out emerging as a much better company as a result. Ford does not seem to find a problem with selling right-hand-drive and left-hand-drive cars, nor, for that matter, do Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Nissan, Audi or VW.

  3. GM are just being GM. Killing off brands, closing factories, laying off employees, all nothing new for them. Even here in the USA, there are still people who lament the passing of their Oldsmobile line (founded 1897 by Ransom E. Olds).

    Nor are they the only ones who use government money to their advantage. I was once involved with stripping out a factory in Puerto Rico that belonged to a large manufacturer. When first opened, it was with the incentive of an extended tax holiday. As soon as that tax break was about to expire, they announced the plant’s closure and launched plans to open a replacement facility in Venezuela (I think).

    A bank with which I have done business since 1982 has over the past few years closed three of its local branches, leaving only two in the county where I live (neither entirely convenient for me), and eliminated a service that I used and appreciated at those. But do you have any idea how much that bank’s CEO was paid last year? C’mon, take a guess. *Twenty-six and a half MILLION dollars* (USD 26,500,000)!!!!!

    A great way to do business, eh what? (Expletive deleted) the employees, ditto the customers, all to pay their big shots more than any mortal should be worth. I almost feel out of place for being such an ethical individual.

    By the way, I drive a Ford.

  4. Cog: Oh, of course. It isn’t only GM, far from it. For example, not too long ago, Santander closed their local branch forcing people to go to Poole, Yeovil or Weymouth to visit a branch. They have no more cash points within half an hour and if someone is older and isn’t comfortable with online banking (Dorset is one of the, if not the, county with the oldest average population in the UK so this is more more common than some knobs in Spain or London would imagine) they can well and truly get stuffed. Since then, Nation Wide, Lloyds and HSBC have all seen rapid local growth as people shut their Santander accounts. M&S are closing this Saturday. They’re asking their customers to travel to Weymouth, Yeovil, Blandford Forum or Poole. Yeah, right, that’s going to work… As usual, some idiot in London looked at a map, not local conditions, in order to close the most profitable shop. Waitrose was overcrowded enough, I anticipate that it’s going to get even worse.

    There seems to be this expectation that jobs that pay reasonably well, whether in services, agriculture or industry are to be shut down. Say farewell to light industries, tailoring, banking and a degree of retail, but expect town centres to flourish with charity shops, gastro pubs and coffee shops. Sure… Because there is a pressing need to have 6 coffee shops within 5 minutes. Oh well, at least people on universal credit can keep themselves busy as volunteers at charity shops as they watch their lives go by with more and more people competing for fewer and fewer jobs.

    I will buy a car in May. I’m considering a Nissan, Subaru, Toyota or Honda.

  5. Christopher – when my mother moved to Hove there was a thriving local shopping centre nearby – over the years it converted to a centre for charity and coffee shops – it seems to be the ‘thing’ in the UK. It amazes me just how many different charities there are in the UK.

    Here, in Oz, when shops become vacant they are taken over by ‘fitness’ freaks… I do wonder how they all survive.

    What has made life a lot easier for accessing money (if not the services of a bank) is that all Coles and Woolies supermarkets now provide free of charge services for taking cash out.

  6. Boadicea: I did a count yesterday at Corn Market, Dorchester’s historic town centre. There are 8 coffee shops and 6 charity shops within 5 minutes. In the core of Dorchester there are 5 gyms. There are two other trends in the UK: phone shops and hair salons. There are 3 phone shops at Corn Market and 5 hair salons. There are only 20,000 people in town. There are even more once you start to get to the outskirts of town. In the UK banks do not charge for taking money out, even if someone has an account with a different bank. Most supermarkets will also give up to 50 quid cash back. It makes things easier, but there are still al lot of people with savings books, people who make cash deposits and withdrawals, etc.

  7. I remember the old Top Gear when Clarkson drooled over a souped up Monaro. What a beast it was. And the car too.

    OZ

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