Speaking to the Australian media in Detroit today, Dan Ammann, president of General Motors, said the global focus going forward is on electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity and ride sharing, with Holden set to have a big involvement in future-proofing itself for all four automotive trends.
“We want to redefine the future in Australia as well.” Ammann said
“[To] make sure the team on the ground at Holden is not only viewed as that (future ready) but there is substance redefining that… so when people look at Holden and look upstream at rest of GM and the leadership position we are taking, they should feel really good about it”
Speaking of the impending factory closures later this month, Ammann said what’s done is done and Holden now needs to look to the future rather than the past.
“Although that chapter of Holden’s history is closing, there is a new chapter opening up and we are right at the forefront of it and there should be no doubt about our commitment to the market, to the brand and to making it as much of a success in the new world.”
Holden’s future under General Motors appears to be rather bright, with the American brand investing in making not only its future and upcoming technologies available for Australia but also making sure right-hand drive models become the norm, rather than a rarity going forward.
“I think all the pieces are in place from a portfolio kind of view… we feel really good about that, the right-hand drive question I have talked about for years, we are delivering through with that with the new product, we are at the point now that with the portfolio in particular and investment in future technologies, there are no more excuses… we are going to get through this important event coming up, that will be significant but done and now it will be back to business and with a forward-looking perspective on the future.”
Asked if he had a message for Holden’s factory workers, Ammann said that General Motors is grateful and proud of employees's huge efforts.
“We are hugely grateful for all of the effort and energy that the employee base has put in at Holden over the years and decades, we are all incredibly proud over what has been achieved over that time.”
Nonetheless, Ammann reiterated that the decision to shut down local manufacturing was the right one and in the best interest of Holden in the long-term.
“The decision we made was made in the best interest of the business in the long-term and we are committed to making sure that Holden is incredibly successful for the future, that’s behind everything we have done and we are all very grateful and thankful for all the work that has been put in.”
As Holden goes through its transformation from manufacturer to importer, the shifting image of the brand will take some time to change according to Ammann, as it seeks to appeal to a new audience that may otherwise have never considered purchasing a Holden. Even so, there are no plans to ditch the Holden badge in favour of a more global brand such as Chevrolet.
“[Our] commitment to the Holden brand is high, we’ve gone through some similar journeys, frankly, it’s a similar journey to Chevrolet here and what we found is that these journeys always take longer than you think, you launch a new campaign and begin to reposition the brand and to create relevance with a new audience, you sit there and watch the monthly sales, and you say where are the results? But it’s a journey that takes time, what I have learnt over the years is that you have to be committed to the journey, stay invested in it, keep delivering, customer product and experience, etcetera, there no silver bullet, you have to keep doing it over and over again and keep doing it consistently and really be on it.
“I recognise that takes time, we have done it here we have seen it here, you invest and invest and invest and just when you think it’s not working it starts to turn around.”
According to Ammann, there are already early signs that Holden brand’s image and perception is moving in the right direction, however, he admitted that it took Chevrolet somewhere between five to ten years to undergo a brand transformation.
“These are multi-year journies. If you sort of hit the launch button and three quarters in you say what going on here? You’re missing the point, this is not a journey that has just begun it has been underway for a little while, we have all the restructuring hanging over us a bit, it would be good to move through that and really focus on the future for the customers, employees, and everybody.”
Holden's local manufacturing shuts down on the 20th of October.