Holden was until recently the Australian arm of General Motors, widely considered a national icon. In 2017, it celebrated the 70th anniversary of the development of the first all-Australian car, the Commodore sedan, a long-established champion which was for years the country's top-selling passenger car. However times change, and although Holden remained one of Australia's best-known brands, it lost its position as the country's leading manufacturer in 2003 to Toyota. Despite three years of growth across the industry as a whole between 2015 and 2017, Holden continued to lose share, slipping to 4th place in 2017, and then 6th for 2018 and finally down to 10th place in 2019. Volumes plunged by 29% in the latter year to just 43k units, the lowest figure for at least five decades. At the end of 2017, in a move that was greeted with shock by many Australians, the company brought to an end 70 years of local automobile manufacturing with the closure of its remaining factory, and the last ever Australian-made Commodore. After that, all vehicles were imported, mainly from GM Korea or from Europe. The most recent version of the Commodore was actually made in Europe by Opel, now a division of PSA. In 2019, following GM's withdrawal from several other unprofitable regional markets, rumours began to circulate that the group was in talks to transfer the Holden brand to importer Inchcape, which also manages the Subaru, Peugeot and Citroen brands in Australia. That story was denied by Holden, but clearly some solution was required for the brand's decline. The crunch finally came in 2020, when GM confirmed it would suspend its remaining local operations in Australia & New Zealand by 2021. Newly appointed managing director Kristian Aquilina was charged with overseeing the brand's closure. GM's plans to shutter Holden were almost immediately met with opposition from dealers, regulators and politicians, but a legal challenge to the compensation offered to dealers was unsuccessful.
Capsule checked 12th June 2019
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Feb 2020: GM announced plans to exit several further international markets, perhaps most significantly Australia. In fact, the writing has been on the wall for the group's Australian Holden business for at least a decade. Once the local leader in passenger cars, it has steadily lost sales since it was first overtaken by Toyota in 2003. In 2019 alone, shipments fell by 29%, putting it in 10th place with just 4% market share. (Toyota now has 20%). GM said it will wind down all local sales, design and engineering operations, and will retire the Holden brand altogether in 2021. Instead the company will focus solely on imported "specialty vehicles" in Australia, primarily through a third-party distribution partner. "At the highest levels of our company we have the deepest respect for Holden's heritage and contribution to our company and to the countries of Australia and New Zealand," said GM president Mark Reuss. "After considering many possible options – and putting aside our personal desires to accommodate the people and the market – we came to the conclusion that we could not prioritise further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry." GM also announced plans to sell its local manufacturing operations in Thailand, and to withdraw the Chevrolet brand from that country.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week "Not To Be Outdone". If anyone can repair the fortunes of ailing Australian carmaker Holden, it may be creative hothouse The Monkeys. For decades, GM-owned Holden dominated the country's auto industry, but it has been overtaken since 2003 by a succession of more nimble challengers. In the first quarter of 2018, it slipped to a dismal 7th place among Australia's biggest car brands. However, The Monkeys' newly arrived creative chief Ant Keogh, poached last year from Clemenger BBDO (and arguably the local industry's equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo) is here to save the day. He manages to deliver laughs as well as appropriately spectacular driving footage in this spot for the Colorado pickup, which proves itself to be every bit as nimble as one particularly persistent (and handsome) mountain goat. Yes, that's right, an ad with goats. And who can resist an ad with goats? Not the Adbrands team, that's for sure.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Mar 2018: The Commodore is an Australian icon, that country's first entirely home-grown automobile and the best-seller for more than 60 years until it was surpassed in 2011 by Japanese imports. GM's local subsidiary Holden stopped making cars in Australia at the end of last year, a move that seemed likely to mark the end of the Commodore brand. Not so. The Commodore is dead, long live the Commodore; only now it looks suspiciously like the Insignia model made in Europe by Opel/Vauxhall. It's unclear how long that import partnership will last now that Opel is owned by PSA instead of GM, but for now there's still plenty of history to celebrate. This campaign by The Monkeys does a fine job of reflecting the Commodore's unique position in most Australians' life story by focusing on the most important moments in one such couple's personal history.
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