General Motors president Dan Ammann has commited to Holden in the long term, with the possibility of Chevrolet replacing the brand locally completely ruled out.
“As someone who grew up in New Zealand it [Holden] means a lot to me,” Ammann began. “We see the brand and its presence in New Zealand and Australia as critically important and we’re going to continue to support the brand with all the right products. We see a very significant role for the brand there going forward.
“We’ll be doing everything we need to do to meet the needs of the market… Customers tell us what they want and what they need and we do everything we can to meet those needs.”
It’s a position backed by former Holden managing director, currently GM North America president, Alan Batey, who questioned the rumour that Chevrolet may replace Holden in Australia then similarly dismissed it.
“Holden is such a strong brand, I struggle [to see] where that came from,” he begins.
“At the end of the day we’ve seen other brands that have moved out of manufacturing in Australia and we’ve seen their presence has remained strong, and we’re going to do the same.
“If you’re starting out with a clean sheet of paper it might be something different, but you’ve got a brand that’s Australia’s own, so I don’t think it would make sense to put [Chevrolet badge] bowties on the front of Holdens down there, I don’t think that will make commercial sense at all.”
Both Ammann and Batey say it’s “too early” to tell if there is a buyer backlash thanks to the negative reporting that stemmed from Holden’s local manufacturing withdrawal announcement, but the man at the top of GM turned the tables, blaming buyers for the demise of locally manufactured cars.
“I think the Australian customer has voted with their wallets to some extent, when you look at the share of vehicles sold in the market that are locally produced are at an all time low.
“Across the whole industry, it’s gone from a primarily manufacturer market to much more of an import market, but again it comes from the customers in Australia and New Zealand, and what they want to buy, and that’s what we’re going to provide…”
Ammann described the loss of the local engineering facility as a decision designed to go “back to overall optimising the engineering operations on a global basis [and] part of getting maximum efficiency and maximum global linkage,” but he added that offering Australian engineers jobs globally is “quite possible”.