Holden looks set to bow out of Australia on a high note, posting a massive sales increase last month in a market that saw most automotive brands hit reverse.
Buyers rushed Holden showrooms to take advantage of discounts of between $7500 and $17,500 across the range.
Most dealers have almost sold out of remaining stock months earlier than expected and industry insiders say Holden may wind down operations before its original deadline at the end of the year.
Preliminary figures obtained by CarAdvice show Holden sold just shy of 5000 cars in March, approximately a 30 per cent increase on the same month last year and its best monthly result since November 2018.
A leaked dealer bulletin obtained by CarAdvice in February revealed discounts across the Holden runout range of between $7500 and $17,500, however it was up to each showroom’s discretion how much of the savings they would pass on.
Limited remaining Holden stock across the country means that not all models or all colours are available.
Many multi-franchise dealers have a handful of cars remaining, while standalone Holden dealers – which represent about 10 per cent of the network of 185 dealers and 203 showrooms – are stockpiling in an attempt to trade for as long as possible.
In February this year Holden announced it would exit the Australian market by the end of 2020 after its parent company General Motors decided to withdraw from right-hand-drive countries globally.
Over the past few years General Motors sold its interests in the UK and had withdrawn from other major right-hand-drive countries such as South Africa and India.
General Motors had deemed it was no longer economically viable to design, develop and manufacture vehicles for the remaining right-hand-drive countries, the largest of which were Thailand – where the Holden Colorado ute and Holden Trailblazer were made – Australia and New Zealand.
General Motors says it will retain a presence in Australia for at least another 10 years to offer parts, service, warranty and recall back up for the 2 million Holden cars still on Australian roads.
While General Motors is in the middle of negotiations over compensation to Holden dealers for ending their franchise agreements almost three years early, the company also plans to appoint a number of existing outlets as factory-backed service centres.
General Motors is also likely to continue its presence in Australia in a joint venture with the Walkinshaw Automotive Group, the company responsible for Holden Special Vehicles.
Following the shutdown of local manufacturing in 2017, HSV shifted its business to convert left-hand-drive cars and pick-ups from the US to right-hand-drive, to factory standards for Australian consumers.
The outfit is likely to be renamed General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV). Initially it will continue to sell models such as the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car Chevrolet Silverado pick-up (pictured below), but may expand to include other models such as the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV and, eventually, certain Cadillac and Hummer vehicles.
New car sales in March 2020*
Toyota: 17,500, up 1.6 per cent
Mazda: 6800, down 29 per cent
Mitsubishi: 5700, down 43 per cent
Kia: 5600, up 6 per cent
Hyundai: 5400, down 29 per cent
Holden: 5000, up 30 per cent
Ford: 4800, down 21 per cent
Nissan: 3500, down 30 per cent
Honda: 3100, down 27 per cent
Subaru: 3000, up 0.2 per cent
Volkswagen: 2800, down 38 per cent
* Preliminary figures, rounded, and subject to change.