Holden hopes a couple of big new investments into its Australian dealer network and proving ground will convince doubters that parent company GM is committed to its future.
The newly fledged sales, marketing and development company announced it will co-fund a $150- to $200 million cash injection, with its franchise dealers, into its 200-site network.
The plan is to significantly upgrade these dealers to make buying a Holden a more pleasant experience. GM Holden’s contribution will make up about 30 per cent of the total.
Holden has also put $7 million into resurfacing the 4.7 km circular track at the Lang Lang proving ground in regional Victoria, where it tests and calibrates vehicles for here and overseas.
Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard spoke at this week’s Equinox SUV launch - the first such event since it closed the Elizabeth Commodore/Ute plant last month.
“Holden is evolving our brand to appeal to a broader audience,” he said.
“... The experience people have at Holden dealerships is a key part of repositioning the brand in the hearts and minds of today’s Australians.”
The money will fund new signage, concierge services, up-skilling sales staff, and integrating after-sales and service people into the main showroom.
These showrooms will also apparently get a new layout reminiscent of an airport lounge, with Nespresso pod machines (acting as recycling points for used pods), and LED screens to help you configure your ideal car.
“This investment is an indication of our confidence in our plan, our product portfolio and our bright future in the Australian market,” Holden claims.
Holden’s director of ‘Future Dealership Experience’, Narelle Stack, claims the exercise is about “building trust by making our customers feel so much more relaxed and comfortable throughout the whole car buying and servicing journey”.
The other side of the investment coin is the 60-year old proving ground, where Holden’s team of engineers and developers work. The $7 million resurfacing job complements the $8.7 million already invested in a new emissions lab there.
“Every vehicle wearing a Holden badge has been tested at Lang Lang. Holden vehicles will continue to be tuned and tested at our proving ground for Australian conditions,” Bernhard said.
Lang Lang also does engine and transmission calibration for global markets. Holden’s Lang Lang’s team is currently working on global programs for Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac.
The fully upgraded emissions cell means Holden can test product to meet stringent emissions regulatory levels for Europe and North America.