The future of the Holden Commodore is in doubt, with insiders claiming it is likely to come to an unceremonious end about 12 months from now, bringing down the curtain on a tumultuous 42-year run.
However, Holden says the Holden Commodore is here to stay despite the shock announcement in the US overnight that its identical twin, the Buick Regal, will be phased out next year due to weak sales driven by a buyer shift to SUVs.
Sales of the Holden Commodore – imported from Germany after the end of Australian manufacturing two years ago – have also failed to meet expectations.
The Holden Commodore and the Buick Regal are identical vehicles but with different badges, made by General Motors’ former European brand Opel.
Holden insiders with intimate knowledge of the company’s future model plans have told CarAdvice the Commodore is due to be phased out before the facelift model was scheduled to arrive in late 2020. CarAdvice has also learned Holden dealers are yet to receive details about the updated model.
However, Holden insists the decision to stop selling the Buick Regal in the US and Canada is unrelated to the future of the Holden Commodore and the company intends to introduce the face-lifted model (pictured above and below) next year.
A statement issued by Holden after this article was published said: "Buick’s changes to their model line-up aren’t directly relevant to Holden. We are in the process of introducing the (model year 2020) and we are still selling Commodores. If anything changes in regard to Commodore we will tell you."
Even though the Commodore is Holden’s second-best selling model so far this year – behind the Holden Colorado ute – that is more of a reflection of how poorly other models in the range have performed.
Commodore sales are down by 37 per cent year-to-date in a market that has slumped by 8.2 per cent over the same period.
General Motors’ sale of Opel to France’s Peugeot-Citroen group in 2017 has compounded the problems for the Commodore amid the sharp downturn in sales.
General Motors must now buy the Buick and the Commodore from a brand it once owned, making it difficult to negotiate a more favourable factory-gate price.
A statement from General Motors to US media overnight said the Buick Regal went on sale “right around the time that General Motors sold Opel, the German automaker that developed and builds the [Buick Regal and Holden Commodore] to France’s [Peugeot-Citroen] Group. General Motors has since had to pay Opel to build the car. Opel sells its own version … badged an Insignia, which Opel has just updated”.
Holden has sold just 5400 examples of the Commodore in the first 11 months of this year. At its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Holden sold comfortably more than that every month.
The uncertainty around the future of the Commodore caps off a disastrous year for Holden. November was its lowest result since 1948, its sixth record low in 11 months, and was almost overtaken by Isuzu which has just two models in its range. The entire Holden line-up was outsold by each of the top three sellers, the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton.