Over the last five years, GM has slipped from second place in Australia to its current fourth position. General Motors Holden fears that with the closure of its only car plant near Adelaide in October, the brand could slide further.
Australians now prefer pick-ups and SUVs to the big Holden sedans and wagons which their parents once bought.
Last year wasn’t the best for GM Holden. Australian market deliveries dipped to well under 100,000 (to 94,308 units compared to 114,665 in 2012) and having fallen behind Mazda in 2015, third place was taken by Hyundai. Local buyers seem to prefer pick-ups and SUVs rather than the big sedans and wagons which their parents once bought. Holden is the only brand marketed by GM in Australia (and New Zealand).
Toyota, the long-time market leader, remains way ahead of all comers. The danger is that with Ford and Mitsubishi close behind Holden, it could potentially drop to sixth place by year end, especially with the Commodore sedan due to go out of production on 20 October. June sales demonstrated that, with Holden still in fourth place with 9,273 deliveries but this was down by 18.5 per cent and a mere seven vehicles ahead of Mitsubishi.
Aiming to prevent a further slide, all sorts of additional and replacement vehicles are coming, and from multiple locations. GM plants are the sources of almost all of those vehicles but in the future, Holden might well be importing certain models – which would use a Groupe PSA architecture – perhaps even from one of the French OEM’s factories.
The successor to Holden’s version of the Chevrolet Spark is a rebadging of that model. GM Holden told the media in February 2015 that a Barina Spark replacement would appear in the first quarter of 2016. The Holden Spark went on sale in April 2016, the Barina prefix having been dropped. The next news should be a facelift in 2018. The next generation Spark is due in 2021. It should again be manufactured at Changwon in South Korea.
The Barina is a version of the Chevrolet Aveo/Sonic. Built at GM Korea’s Changwon plant, it went on sale in Australia in November 2011 as a five-door hatchback and in February 2012 as a sedan. This newer-shape Barina had its premiere at the Melbourne motor show in July 2011. The previous generation model continued for a time, with it having been renamed ‘Barina Classic’.
A facelifted Barina went on sale during the fourth quarter of 2016. The replacement model due in 2019 should use GM’s G2XX architecture.
The Astra for Australia is somewhat complicated in that each of three body styles is or will be sourced from a different country.
The Astra for Australia is somewhat complicated in that each of three body styles is or will be sourced from a different country.
Imports of the five-door hatchback would arrive in Australia and New Zealand towards the end of 2016, Holden stated in September 2015. GM Europe’s Gliwice plant in Poland began building the Holden Astra in October 2016.
The Astra sedan was added in May. This car is the same as the Chevrolet Cruze sedan sold in South Korea and is sourced from the Gunsan plant. Holden is the only GM division to rebadge GM Korea’s sedan. The Astra sedan replaced the Holden Cruze sedan.
An Astra Sportwagon will arrive in New Zealand and Australia during December. It will be manufactured by Vauxhall Motors at Ellesmere Port in northwest England.
Vauxhall has an agreement with General Motors Europe to manufacture the Astra five-door and estate until 2021. Groupe PSA is being pressed by the UK’s Unite union to clarify what its intentions for this factory are. It may be that Gliwice undertakes all build of the next generation model and that Ellesmere Port is closed, but this remains speculative.
Facelifts for all three cars should be on sale in Holden’s two markets during 2019. Astra replacements will then appear from 2021. The hatchback and wagon should be based on Groupe PSA’s EMP2 architecture, while the next sedan seems likely to again be built by GM Korea. The four-door car would in that case be based upon the architecture which replaces General Motors’ Global Delta.
Until recently, Holden had two cars in the D segment, one being a convertible and the other a sedan. Due to slow sales, the Cascada was dropped during the second quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, production of the Insignia VXR ceased in February. The new-shape Insignia will be sold in Australia from 2018 but it won’t use that name.
The Commodore is now the only Holden still being built in Australia.
The Commodore is now the only Holden still being built in Australia. The current generation of this large, long-lived rear-wheel drive sedan went on sale in August 2006. The 180kW and 195kW versions of the locally made 3.6-litre V6 from the previous model were carried over, while a 270kW version of the imported (from North America) 6.0-litre V8 was added.
A wagon bodystyle was revealed as a lightly disguised concept at the Sydney motor show in October 2007. It reached dealerships in July 2008 after a debut at the Melbourne show in February 2008.
A version for Pontiac, the G8 sedan, was announced at the Chicago show in February 2007, with exports to North America commencing in December 2007 and ending in mid-2009. The Chevrolet Omega, another version of the sedan, this time for GM do Brasil, went on sale there in August 2007.
The Commodore’s first facelift, an extremely minor one, was in September 2009. Following that update, the base engine became a 190kW 3.0-litre V6, while the former 3.6-litre V6 saw its power rise from 195kW to 201kW. There was a second facelift in September 2010, with the car’s codename changed to ‘VE Series II’ (formerly ‘VE’). Most Australian vehicles are given a two-letter model code.
Images of another facelift, the car’s third, were issued to the media in February 2013. This, the VF series, was claimed to be a new model, but it was more accurate to call it a major re-engineering, as multiple body panels were new, as was the interior. The VF Commodore reached Australian dealerships in June 2013. The Ute (pick-up) and Caprice (long-wheelbase luxury sedan) were also part of this updated range.
Production of the Chevrolet SS ceased on 26 May so the last cars will soon be arriving in US dealerships.
North America’s Chevrolet SS, new for the US’ 2014 model year, was more or less a modified Commodore SS V. It too was announced in February 2013. Production ceased on 26 May so the last cars will soon be arriving in US dealerships.
In October 2014, Holden announced the ‘2015 model year’ Commodore range, which consisted of some minor updates.
The Commodore had been due to be replaced in late 2016 or early 2017, Holden claimed throughout 2012 and 2013, but other than the model name being carried over, no other information was revealed. Then in December 2013 came an announcement from GM that it would cease manufacturing cars and engines in Australia by the end of 2017. At that point, Holden would consist of a national sales company, a national parts distribution centre and a global design studio, the statement from Detroit noted.
The final update for this model series went on sale in Australia and NZ in October 2015. This is the VF II and the changes consisted of a facelift, and for V8-engined variants, a more powerful LS3 engine. It produces 304kW and 570Nm.
The ‘2016 VF II’ Commodore range consisted of the following variants: SV6, SS, SSV, SSV Redline, Calais and Calais V.
GM Holden told the media in January that the last cars would be built at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia on 20 October. A slightly revised ‘2017’ Commodore range was then announced in February.
The next generation Commodore is due to go on sale in Australia and New Zealand in February 2018.
The next generation Commodore is due to go on sale in both of Holden’s markets next February. The new model will be available as a five-door hatchback and a wagon, both built by Opel at Rüesselsheim.
Apart from badges and the availability of a V6, the new Commodore will be the same car as the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia. There will be three engines (including the first diesel Commodore), each of which will be linked to a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox:
- 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo
- 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo
- 3.6-litre V6 petrol, standard all-wheel drive
GM Holden released the first images of the Sportwagon to the media in February, some weeks ahead of the car’s debut at the Geneva motor show as an Opel. Compared to the outgoing Commodore wagon, the next one loses a lot of boot volume: 1,640 litres with seats folded compared to 2,000.
As for Holden’s largest model, there were two near-identical cars, the Statesman and Caprice but at the time of the September 2010 styling update, the Statesman was discontinued and the model’s codename modified from ‘WM’ to ‘WM Series II’.
The Caprice is a Commodore with a lengthened wheelbase, longer rear doors and some styling modifications. It was traditionally popular with the premium taxi hire business and also served as a ministerial car for politicians, especially after the Fairlane and LTD, Ford Australia’s equivalent for the Statesman and Caprice, went out of production in 2007.
There were originally two engines: a 195kW 3.6-litre V6 and a 270kW 6.0-litre V8. In September 2009, a 190kW 3.0-litre V6 became the base engine, while the 3.6-litre V6 was given a power boost from 195kW to 210kW.
GM Holden started exports of a rebadged model, the Chevrolet Caprice, to the Middle East in October 2006.
CKD assembly started in China in early 2008 (Buick Park Avenue) with exports of a Daewoo Statesman replacement from Australia to South Korea following in September 2008: the now discontinued Daewoo Veritas was launched in South Korea the same month.
An updated Caprice was launched in Australia in May 2013. The changes were mostly for the interior. The Caprice was powered by a 3.6-litre LPG engine, while the Caprice V was powered by a 6.0-litre V8. The current cars’ codename is WN. For what GM Holden termed the ‘2015 model year’, announced in October 2014, the Caprice was discontinued, leaving just the Caprice V which is available with V6 or V8 power.
Despite being a slow seller, the Caprice V was included in the final round of model changes for the Commodore series. These facelifted cars hit the market in October 2015. As well as the minor restyle, 6.0-litre cars gained more power. Caprice V build will likely cease fairly soon and there won’t be a replacement.
The Colorado is built alongside its twin, the Chevrolet Colorado, at GM’s Rayong plant.
The current Colorado Ute has been available since June 2012. The model is built alongside its twin, the Chevrolet Colorado, at GM’s Rayong plant. There are single cab, space cab and crew cab bodies, as well as 2.5- and 2.8-litre diesel engines.
The Toyota Hilux remains Australia’s best selling vehicle, the Ranger is Ford’s number one model, and equally, the Colorado is an especially important vehicle for Holden. In June, the Toyota and Ford were in the top-ten, as was the Mitsubishi Triton (L200).
In July 2016, Isuzu announced to the media that its collaboration with GM on the development of midsize pick-up trucks made in Thailand had ceased. Earlier the same month the Japanese company noted that it had agreed a supply deal with Ford for the next generation Ranger pick-up, which means the end of the Ford-Mazda AutoAlliance light truck JV in Thailand.
A facelifted Colorado was announced by Holden in August 2016. The next generation model might be as far off as 2020-2022, though Holden will undoubtedly be pushing hard to get a fresh model on sale before then. The problem is, North America’s current Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins didn’t go on sale there until the 2015 model year. So the parent company won’t likely recognise the urgency of a new pick-up for a small division in two far away markets.
The current Ute, a large pick-up, has been on sale in Australia, its main market, since October 2007. There were no replacements for the former Crewman and One-Tonner derivatives, nor are there all-wheel drive variants, due to cost cutting. All versions of the Ute have two doors and two seats.
While the Ute takes many of its design and styling cues from the Commodore and Caprice sedans, its body structure has more than 60 unique panels. It shares its 3,009mm wheelbase with the long wheelbase Holden Caprice.
A version for Pontiac, the proposed 2010 G8 ST, was to have been exported to North America as a passenger vehicle for the start of sales in late 2009. The axing of Pontiac brand ended that idea.
Images of a facelifted Holden Ute were issued to the media in February 2013, four months ahead of its launch in the Australian market. This followed an earlier facelift and a range of engine updates in September 2010. South Africa’s Chevrolet Ute had the same changes in November 2010. It was discontinued during 2014.
A facelifted Ute was announced in October 2015 and there obviously won’t be any further changes.
There is no Ute replacement scheduled and unlikely to be one as no other GM or Groupe PSA division or brand has anything suitably sized or with large enough engines.
As noted in the section above on the Commodore, GM Holden told the media in January 2017 that the last cars would be built at Elizabeth on 20 October. There is no replacement scheduled and unlikely to be one as no other GM or Groupe PSA division or brand has anything suitably sized or with large enough engines.
Crossovers & SUVs
The G1UH Trax went on sale in Australia and New Zealand from August 2013. It comes down the same production line as the all but identical Chevrolet Trax at GM Korea’s Bupyeong plant. Both are closely related to the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka and Buick Encore.
A facelifted Trax went on sale in Australia and New Zealand during the first quarter of 2017. The second generation Trax is due for release in 2019. It should use GM’s G2XX architecture.
The Captiva is still available as a Holden but it is now in its last few months. Originally, there was an unusual strategy for this model range. Instead of offering two vehicles with slight styling differences as was the case in Europe (Opel/Vauxhall Antara and Chevrolet Captiva), Holden once imported both (from South Korea) but badged each as a Captiva.
The SX, CX and LX levels were renamed, RHD versions of the former Daewoo Winstorm, while the former range-topping MaXX trim level, discontinued in 2008, was all but identical to the Vauxhall Antara.
Originally, all Holden Captivas came as standard with a 165kW 3.2-litre V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. The SX, CX and LX went on sale in October 2006 and the MaXX a month later. A diesel engine was added in March 2007.
The Captiva shared its styling with the Chevrolet Captiva, while the Captiva MaXX was identical to the Opel/Vauxhall Antara and GMC Terrain. In September 2009, Holden revived the former Captiva MaXX, announcing it as the Captiva 5 (five-seater). The then-new model variant went on sale three months later.
A facelift for the Captiva 5 and Captiva 7, along with a revised engine range was announced in February 2011. This update went on sale in early 2016, with Holden changing the cars’ model names at the same time: the Captiva 5 was dropped and the Captiva 7 became… the Holden Captiva.
The D2UH Equinox will be the replacement for Holden’s Captiva, which was discontinued in late 2015.
The D2UH Equinox will be the replacement for Holden’s Captiva, which was discontinued in late 2015. It is expected to go on sale in Australia and New Zealand during late 2017. Production is most likely to be at GM Korea’s Bupyeong plant. This is more or less an RHD version of North America and China’s Chevrolet Equinox.
The Colorado 7, a version of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, would be launched by GM Holden in early 2013, the company confirmed in November 2011. The Colorado 7 premiered at the Sydney motor show in October 2012, before going on sale two months later. A facelifted model released in Australia in October 2016 changed names to TrailBlazer.
The TrailBlazer is based on GM’s Mid-Size Pick-up architecture. It it manufactured at Rayong in Thailand and due to be replaced in 2020. This model will likely have an updated version of the same architecture. At this stage, it is not known where it will be built.
C1UH, the Acadia, is to be added to Holden’s range of SUVs from 2018.
C1UH, the Acadia, is to be added to Holden’s range of SUVs from 2018. It will be manufactured alongside the GMC Acadia at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee.
In Australia this model will be a rival for the Toyota Kluger (Highlander in some countries). This will be the first and likely only application of a RHD version of the GMC original. There should be a facelift in late 2020 and a replacement model in 2026. The latter should use C2XX, the second generation of GM’s latest C1XX architecture.
The Commodore Tourer, which is to be Australia and New Zealand’s version of the Opel/Vauxhall Country Tourer and Buick Regal TourX, was announced by Holden in April. The Tourer is almost 110mm and 20mm longer than the Commodore and Commodore Sportwagon respectively. The suspension has an additional 20mm of travel and there are extended wheelarches.
The Tourer, which is technically a crossover, is due for a facelift in 2021. It is too early to say whether or not there will be a successor for this model. It could be that Holden negotiates a supply deal from Groupe PSA for a future large car or, should the volume exist in the Australian market during the first years of the 2020s, perhaps GM will engineer an RHD version of its next Buick Regal. This could be built in either North America or China with production commencing in 2024.
There is one other potential model, a large SUV, which Holden might have in its model range from 2020, but this is by no means confirmed.
Speaking to the media in May 2011, the then head of Opel-Vauxhall, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, revealed plans for a new model due around 2015 or 2016. To sit in the Opel (and, presumably, Vauxhall) model range(s) above the Insignia, the extra vehicle would logically be, it was imagined, a version of the Buick Enclave. This would give GM’s two European markets main brands something with which to challenge the VW Touareg replacement, as well as the Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe.
In March 2014, Stracke’s successor K T Neumann, told the media in an issued release that an additional Opel-Vauxhall model as well as a Buick for export to North America would be built at Rüsselsheim. “Due to competitive reasons, details about this car will not be announced until the end of the year”, Opel’s statement added.
In November 2014 came slightly more information when Neumann and GM’s CEO Mary Barra announced the future production of an SUV at Ruesselsheim. This would be Opel and Vauxhall’s co-flagship with the Insignia, the leaders claimed.
According to a 6 April 2017 media statement by Opel, “a large SUV will be produced in Rüsselsheim as of the end of the decade”. The model name will have an X suffix, and so Monza X is rumoured. Whether or not Holden will gain this vehicle remains unknown. Groupe PSA has said nothing about the project being cancelled and indeed, there may even be plans to spin off up to three variants for DS, Peugeot and/or Citroën.
Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future product program intelligence
Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE.