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by Tim Beissmann

Holden today named Australian and former CFO Mark Bernhard its new chairman and managing director and announced plans for 24 major vehicle launches by 2020 – by which time it has committed to being Australia’s top-selling brand.

General Motors executive vice president and president of GM International Stefan Jacoby today announced that Bernhard would leave his current position as vice president and CFO of Shanghai GM to head up Holden.

“Mark’s knowledge of GM Holden, our region and GM’s global operations will serve him well in his new role,” Jacoby said.

“He will champion the ongoing transition of GM Holden to a national sales company and the repositioning of the Holden brand for long-term growth and profitability.”


Pictured: Mark Bernhard

Bernhard will take the reins in the third quarter of this year from interim chief, Holden CFO Jeff Rolfs, who in turn filled the shoes of Gerry Dorizas, who occupied the chair for just eight months, in which time he committed to making Holden the top-selling brand in Australia by 2020. Holden finished third behind Toyota and Mazda in January this year.

Bernhard began his career in the automotive industry with Holden in 1986 and has held a number of senior finance roles across GM’s global operations over the past four decades. He will become the first Australian to lead Holden in 25 years – the most recent being the late John Bagshaw, who was in charge between 1987-1990.

Jacoby also revealed details of Holden’s new vehicle launch program to 2020, announcing the planned introduction of what it calls 24 major new models and 36 new powertrains over the next five years.

“While I can’t reveal all the details, I can say that Holden will debut an all-new Barina Spark in the first quarter of 2016, launch a global Captiva replacement and another all-new, world-class SUV (potentially this new 2018 Opel SUV flagship) to ensure comprehensive offerings in the crucial SUV market segment,” he said.


Pictured: 2016 Opel Astra spied

“GM is investing significantly to broaden the Holden product portfolio and deliver world-class vehicles.

“Holden is accessing GM’s global operations to assemble its biggest and best ever product line-up. This new model onslaught will ensure Holden has world-class products in every major segment – a true customer-driven product strategy.”

Naturally, Holden is keeping many of the aspects of its model rollout quiet, however much is open to speculation. Have a read of our stories detailing what our sources indicate will be Holden’s new passenger model rollout – led by the likes of the next Astra – here and possible future commercial vehicle rollout here.

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – front ex

Pictured: Chevrolet Bolt concept, designed by Holden 

Just last month, GM vice president of design Ed Welburn admitted the current Holden line-up “needs improvement”, and vowed to put consistency back into the future range with a plan that has “thrilled” Australian dealers.

Today’s announcement follows a sequence of major moves from Holden in recent times, including the imminent return of a trio of Opel models; the retention of its Lang Lang proving ground; a number of major projects from its Design Centre seeing the light of day; committing to sourcing one-third of its future cars from Europe; keeping the Commodore name beyond the end of local production; and committing to a high-end sports car, potentially the next Camaro.