General Motors, Holden

GM axes Holden in global exit from right-hand-drive markets


General Motors on Sunday announced plans to shutter Australian subsidiary Holden by 2021 as part of a continuing effort to exit all right-hand-drive markets.

Holden’s local design and engineering operations, which were retained after its production operations ceased in 2017, will also be dropped. Approximately 600 staff will lose their jobs while 200 will be retained to handle warranty and parts services for up to 10 years.

Holden was founded as a saddle business in 1856 and started manufacturing vehicle bodies in the early 1900s. It was hit hard by the Great Depression, which resulted in its purchase by GM in 1931. The first car branded as a Holden was launched in 1948.

2019 Holden lineup

The latest announcement means GM will soon no longer have a major presence in Holden’s markets of Australia and New Zealand, although enthusiasts will still have access to some GM vehicles via the establishment of a RHD conversion business, similar to how some Camaro models are currently converted to RHD for sale in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia and New Zealand aren’t the only RHD markets where GM is scaling back. GM also said Sunday it will cease production and sales of Chevrolet products in Thailand by the end of 2020, with its plant in Thailand’s Rayong province to be sold to China’s Great Wall Motors.

It follows the automaker’s announcement in January of the sale of a plant in Pune, India.

GM CEO Mary Barra

GM CEO Mary Barra

“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of (electric and autonomous vehicles).”

Since about 2013, GM has been reviewing its global operations in an effort to focus cash and engineering effort on fewer, more profitable markets. Since then, we’ve seen the automaker exit virtually all of the major right-hand-drive markets including the United Kingdom, India and South Africa, and now Australia and New Zealand. GM has still has a presence in Japan, but its sales there hover in the hundreds and some of these are left-hand-drive vehicles. Another major RHD market where GM also retains a presence is Indonesia.

GM has also dramatically scaled back operations in the LHD markets of Europe and Central Asia, including Russia, in recent years, though the automaker maintains a small presence in the regions by selling high-end speciality vehicles like the Camaro and Corvette.



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