Holden is no longer “the Commodore car company” and aims to grow its sales in 2018 by getting far more consistent volume out of its entire core model range.
The company is demanding growth from the existing Astra, Trax and Colorado, big sales from the new Equinox mid sized SUV, and success for the seven-seat Acadia crossover, out of North America, that arrives later next year to challenge the Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9.
Pictured: Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard
It’s resigned to the fact that the new European Commodore liftback, wagon and crossover won’t match the Australian-made model's sales, which in its final year of production has accounted for almost 20,000 sales out of the brand’s circa 70,000 total. Add 3500 Holden Utes as well.
Holden’s plans to grow next year over this year’s tally and get back up towards 2016’s sales seems ambitious given context. It's down 11 per cent this year, though October saw modest growth over the same month in 2016, and November is tracking likewise.
“We are no longer the Commodore car company, or the Colorado company,” Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said this week.
“Buyer habits have changed... Next year we will have a diversified portfolio, sales will be much more evenly spread across the range and we aren’t betting the company on a single car line.
“We have the best products we’ve had for decades… Spark, Colorado, Trailblazer, Astra and now Equinox
“2018 we’d like to grow sales, but it’s going to be balance. Light commercials should be 30 per of our volume, SUVs will grow 35 per cent, passenger cars will come back[wards].
“No longer are our hopes, success and failures pinned on one car line. Colorado, Astra, Commodore, Equinox, all need to perform.”
Out of Holden’s 70,172 sales this year, 47 per cent have been ‘passenger vehicles’ led by Commodore, Astra, Barina and Spark; 24 per cent have been ’SUVs’ (Captiva, Trax and Trailblazer); and 29 per cent have been ‘light commercials’ (Ute and Colorado).
The industry average ratio is 38 per cent, 38.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, with a small number of heavy commercials rounding that figure out to 100.
Part of Holden’s plan for growth over the coming years also relies on a massive co-funded $200 million investment into revamping its 200 dealers, $7 million more on its Lang Lang proving ground, and marketing to remind people that it’s worth considering alongside Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai.
“There was probably a bit of confusion but I think people now understand that Holden is no different to any other brand form an import perspective,” Bernhard reckons.
“We think we are unique with local engineering and design, we know Australian driving conditions better than anyone else.
“We think we still hold a unique place in Australia, people are going past manufacturing now and when they see the new dealers and the messaging, that'll help build on the momentum.”