'It's nice to be back. Really nice. Really nice. I can't tell you how nice, actually' – Mark Reuss, yesterday.
General Motors (GM) has reinforced its commitment to Holden and Australia, with Mark Reuss, ex-Holden managing director and current vice president at GM, describing Australia as a "worthwhile place to do business".
Speaking after announcing an extra $28 million in Holden funding and 150 new jobs in autonomous and electric vehicle development Down Under, Reuss said it's "really tough to win here", but stressed the fact General Motors is along for the ride.
"We're here to make sure that Holden is strong," he said, before highlighting managing director and chairman, Dave Buttner, and his experience in the local car industry.
It's clear Holden and its American parents are aware of the challenge ahead of them, given the nature of the local automotive industry. The lion brand held a 4.6 per cent share of the market at the end of July, down from 7.0 per cent at the same point in 2017. At the peak of its powers in 2001, its share was 21.6 per cent.
"This is part of who we are, and always has been," Reuss said, asked why GM persists with the packed Australian car market. "Either we're in the game or we're not."
"This is a fundamental part of who I am, but it's also a fundamental part of our company, and a fundamental part of this industry here – and we take that very, very seriously," Reuss went on. "That's the way we look at it, and we take those commitments very, very seriously."
He later said there's "no exit plan" for General Motors' operations Down Under.
Reuss has experience in Australia, having served as Holden managing director between 2008 and 2009, while Dave Buttner is a four-decade veteran of the industry, who started at Ford and most recently worked as president of Toyota Australia.
"We need to articulate more clearly the product that we have, in the segments that we have them," Buttner said, speaking at the Holden proving ground in Lang Lang. He's pushing to make the public aware of the mid-sized Equinox (above) SUV and its upcoming Acadia big brother, both of which compete in booming segments.
That's all part of a plan to better communicate "who we are, what we want to be, and where we want to go" now that local manufacturing is dead.
As for whether he can pull that off, and push Holden back to the top of the charts? That remains to be seen.