As exclusively reported by CarAdvice's Joshua Dowling last week, the Commodore will be dropped from the Holden line-up at the end of 2020. It will be joined by the Astra.
The company has confirmed it will continue to sell MY19 Commodore and MY19 Astra variants to private buyers through 2020, "albeit with diminishing model availability as part of an orderly runout". The facelifted MY20 Commodore, confirmed last week, is available to fleet buyers right now.
The upcoming C8 Chevrolet Corvette, due here in either late 2020 or early 2021, will be the only model in Holden's stable not riding on jacked-up suspension.
Today's announcement comes on the heels of news that Dave Buttner would step down as chairman and managing director after just 16 months in the job.
In a release today, Holden's interim boss Kristian Aquilina acknowledged the Commodore's place as an icon of the Australian automotive landscape for decades.
“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he said.
“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.”
The Commodore's retirement closes out a 42-year run, the badge often dominating the market, peaking at 94,642 sales in 1998.
However, with buyer preferences moving to SUVs in recent years, and with the Commodore name shifting to an imported car that offered fewer unique selling points, sales fell off a cliff.
Year to date, Commodore sales are down by 37 per cent, in a market that has slumped by 8.2 per cent. For 2019, Holden expects Commodore sales to top out at around 8700 units, but its current running rate suggests a number closer to 6000.
The Commodore's value to Holden is also hampered by the fact it is no longer built by Holden parent General Motors.
A statement from GM last week said the Commodore's overseas twin, 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”.
Astra sales ended November at 171 registrations for the month and 4047 year-to-date, leaving it down 54 per cent on 2018.
Holden says it will continue to honour warranty and roadside assistance commitments for existing owners, "with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future".
The company has also confirmed it will extend its seven-year free scheduled servicing offer to all MY19 Commodore and Astra models ordered or delivered from today.
Holden will launch the updated MY20 Equinox in the first quarter of 2020, with the MY21 Colorado facelift to follow in Spring. Australian production of the new Corvette will also begin next year, although launch timing is still to be confirmed.