General Motors confirmed it is completely committed to the future of Holden in Australia, following the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to the Peugeot Citroen (PSA) group in Europe yesterday.
Speaking to the Australian media at the Geneva Motor Show today, Dan Ammann, the president of General Motors, said the sale of Opel and Vauxhall should have no real material impact on the operation of Holden in the short to medium future.
“What I want to emphasise is we are 100 per cent committed to the business in Australia and New Zealand, and we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. It’s going to be a really good period of time for the business down there,” Ammann said.
Opel, which will supply the next-generation Commodore (Insignia) and Astra to Holden, was sold to PSA yesterday as GM looks to limit its operations in Europe amid tightening restrictions, changing market conditions and stricter engineering requirements in the medium and long term future.
Ammann admitted GM didn’t have the scale to successfully meet these challenges in Europe, nevertheless, the positive side is that with Europe taken out of the picture, the American giant should be better able to concentrate on markets such as Australia.
“All of you know there’s a lot of people inside GM that have a lot of history and linkage to Holden and there is nothing we want to see more than to for the business be really successful and prosper down there. And we are totally committed to making that happen.”
Ammann confirmed that at no point was Holden considered for sale, or that GM considered changing the brand name to Chevrolet for a more global footprint.
“We have made various decisions in different parts of the world for a bunch of reasons but we are absolutely committed to doing the pipeline of [Holden] product in the way we are doing right now and the way we are going to do going forward for the business down there.”
Holden will take the current-generation of Astra and Insignia from Opel as planned, however no decision has yet been made as to what the future of those two models will be once the next-generation models are required.
“Clearly the current models that are just launching will turn through their full life cycle, and what we do beyond that is yet to be determined,” he said.
Even so, no current model in the pipeline is expected to be axed or changed following the sale.
“For the overall Opel and Vauxhall product plan, it will either stay intact or actually expand.”
Holden’s push to become more European in its line-up is also not under threat, Ammann says, asserting that General Motors has plenty of expertise outside of America to develop global cars.
“We obviously have a lot of that expertise all around the world including in Australia and we will continue to make sure the product is tuned for local conditions whereever that is.”
The sale of Vauxhall may also be seen by some as another nail in the coffin for the development of right-hand driving vehicles in the GM stable, but Ammann believes, if anything, there will be more RHD vehicles from the brand going forward than ever before.
“As we have been developing the next generation of architectures globally, we have increased, not decreased, the flexibility for RHD and made that a much easier thing to do so we remain totally committed to that," he added.
Holden begins what is without doubt the biggest change in the brand’s history post the end of local manufacturing. With already planned models set to continue from Opel, the future seems business as usual for the Red Lion.