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by Tim Beissmann

Holden’s John Elsworth, executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales, spoke with CarAdvice about the first half of 2010 and looked ahead to the rest of the year…

The year so far

Holden sales increased 22.3 percent in the first six of 2010, up more than 12,500 units compared with the same period last year and 5.6 percent ahead of the industry average increase of 16.7 percent. With just months until the launch of the VE Series 2, the Commodore maintained its position as Australia’s favourite car, while the Cruze small sedan rocketed up the charts to be just 1597 units shy of the Ford Falcon. Solid performances from most models pushed Holden’s total market share up 0.59 percentage points to 12.9 percent – the second-largest first half-year increase behind Hyundai.

After falling just 76 units short in an epic see-sawing sales battle with the Falcon Ute last year, the Commodore Ute has this year streaked away and leads the Ford by 1140 units at the halfway point. The Colorado 4×2 – which competes in the same segment – has been the biggest loser of the Holden range this year, sliding back 845 units, although the Colorado 4×4 has picked up the slack, adding 981.

“It has been a pleasing start to the year with solid sales results,” Mr Elsworth said. “We have seen consumer confidence grow following the global financial crisis, which has had a positive impact on customer traffic in our showrooms. As the year progresses, we will continue being aggressive in the market.”

Model 2010 ytd sales 2009 ytd sales Change 2010 ytd

market share

2009 ytd

market share

Barina 6947 5206 33.4% 10.1% 9.0%
Caprice 752 713 5.5% 59.5% 46.6%
Captiva 8372 5014 67.0% 18.0% 14.4%
Colorado 4×2 1326 2171 -38.9% 4.3% 6.5%
Colorado 4×4 6168 5187 18.9% 12.7% 12.4%
Combo 304 407 -25.3% 2.5% 3.5%
Commodore 23,125 21,587 7.1% 47.2% 46.2%
Cruze 14,403 873 1649.8% 12.0% 0.9%
Epica 1129 1245 -9.3% 3.7% 4.6%
Statesman 215 312 -31.1% 17.0% 20.4%
Commodore Ute 4×2 5889 5823 1.1% 19.1% 17.4%
Other 27 7614
Total 68,657 56,152 22.3% 12.9% 12.3%

Note: Other sales include Adventra, Astra, Astra Convertible, Monaro, Rodeo and Viva variants.

Talking points

While Toyota hit all the headlines for its global recalls, Holden garages have also been hard at work in 2010. In total, four separate recall notices have requested 64,476 Holden vehicles return to the dealer for checks and repairs – almost as many vehicles as it has sold this year. In January, 13,038 CG Captivas were recalled for an inspection of the intermediate shaft which could disconnect and result in a loss of steering control. In February, 6514 XC Combos were recalled to repair the air conditioning drain tube which could become blocked and potentially lead to deployment of the airbags. In March, 10,462 JG Cruzes were recalled to replace the quick release connector from the fuel feed hose, and in July, 34,432 VE Utes were recalled after it was discovered the tailgate may unlatch when impacted by unsecured objects in the tray.

On a brighter note, Holden announced last month that it will reintroduce a second shift at its vehicle operations plant in Elizabeth on November 15 to support production of the Commodore VE Series 2 and the Cruze. Orders for the US-specification Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle beginning in October will also add to production numbers.

The factory has operated on a single shift since April 2009 following a 50,000 unit decrease in export demand, in which time the workforce decreased from 3200 to 2300. Employees currently on alternating work patterns will be back to full-time employment in November. Mr Elsworth confirmed local Cruze production (which will include the sedan and an all-new hatch for Australia) will begin no later than March next year.

“There is a huge amount of work going on at the plant including equipment installation and the building of pilot vehicles. Production will begin in the first quarter of 2011. The market’s positive response to Cruze augurs extremely well for the success of the locally produced version next year.”

Holden welcomed new chairman and managing director, Mike Devereux, into the top job in March after Alan Batey left to take up the position of vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet in the US. Devereux is Holden’s fifth boss in less than three years: Denny Mooney held the position until August 2007, with Chris Gubbey (seven months), Mark Reuss (18 months), Batey (six months) and now Devereux following in quick succession. The 44-year-old was born in Great Britain, has a master’s from Harvard and has been working for General Motors since he was 18. Before coming to Holden he was based in Dubai.

Still to come in 2010

The Commodore VE Series 2 is the most hotly anticipated new car launch of the second half of 2010, with the Commodore getting its first visual update since its 2006 launch. Holden is still yet to announce an official launch date, but September looks the most likely at this stage.

CarAdvice has already revealed a number of spy shots and previewed numerous CGIs of the upcoming range, with the changes set to give the VE2 a modest refresh rather than a significant styling overhaul. New grilles, headlights and front bumpers, as well as bootlid lip spoilers at the rear headline the exterior changes, while inside the VE’s aging interior will score a major revision with an elevated central screen and enhanced iPod and iPhone connectivity.

Also arriving before the end of the year is the Barina Spark – Holden’s new entry-level light-car which will sit below the standard Barina range. Based on the Daewoo Matiz, the Barina Spark is likely to compete with other value options like the Suzuki Alto in the sub-$15K segment. The new micro five-door is 24cm shorter than the current Barina and will be powered by a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine producing 60kW and 111Nm of torque.

On sale in the UK as a Chevrolet, the 1.2-litre Spark is teamed with a five-speed manual transmission and returns combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.1-litres/100km and emits CO2 at a rate of 119g/km. Front, side and curtain airbags are standard while electronic stability control is optional on all but the top-spec LT model, which starts at £10,145 ($17,500) in the UK. An automatic transmission is expected in the Australian Barina Spark shortly after the launch of the manual model.

Australian International Motor Show

“We’re looking forward to the return of the Australian Motor Show after a long absence. Once again we will use the show to profile some great new product that we think will have strong consumer appeal.”

Highlights/Successes

“Highlights for the year to date see Commodore once again on top of the sales charts, a position it has held for 14 years straight. We’re also very pleased with the 67 per cent volume increase for Captiva models,” he said.




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