They were arch enemies in showrooms and on race tracks for more than half a century but Ford has put aside its old rivalries by paying tribute to Holden after General Motors announced the lion brand would be axed by the end of 2020 – just three years after the end of local manufacturing.
Holden’s 72-year run – from 1948 to 2020 – will reach the end of the line after its parent company General Motors confirmed it was exiting all right-hand-drive countries after a slow retreat over the past three years from other key markets such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa and Japan.
In a two-part post on Twitter late on Monday, Ford Australia wrote: “All of us here at Ford Australia are saddened to hear the news that Holden will cease operations. Holden is an iconic brand that holds a special place in the heart of many Australians, and has done so much to shape the Australian automotive industry and the country.”
The second part of Ford’s Twitter post said: “(Holden’s) vehicles have been worthy competitors both on road and on the racetrack. To our friends at Holden, thank you for keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher. We will miss you.”
1/1 - All of us here at Ford Australia are saddened to hear the news that Holden will cease operations. Holden is an iconic brand that holds a special place in the heart of many Australians, and has done so much to shape the Australian automotive industry and the country...— Ford Australia (@FordAustralia) February 17, 2020
2/2 - Its vehicles have been worthy competitors both on road and on the racetrack. To our friends at Holden, thank you for keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher. We will miss you.— Ford Australia (@FordAustralia) February 17, 2020
The heartfelt tribute was in stark contrast to comments from the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said Holden would be held to account and closely monitored to ensure all 600 of the 800 workers who will be made redundant will get their full entitlements.
Mr Morrison told media after Holden’s announcement: “I am angry … like I think many Australians would be. Australian taxpayers put billions into [a] multinational company. They let the brand just wither away on their watch.”
Holden led the Australian car market for most of its half-century battle with Ford, from the early 1950s to the early 2000s.
Holden accounted for one in two new cars sold in 1958, and led the entire Australian market for 25 years in a row until 1978, before it swapped the lead with Ford for much of the 1980s.
Holden’s last year as number one was in 2002, when one in five new cars sold was a Holden. Last year, just four new cars out of every 100 sold were a Holden.
General Motors executives from Detroit said there was little Holden could have done to reverse the decision to pull out of Australia.
Investments worth billions of dollars in autonomous and electric cars plus General Motors’ withdrawal from other key right-hand-drive countries made it uneconomical to develop vehicles for Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, GM’s three remaining right-hand-drive markets.
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