Acadia will be added to the Holden line-up during the fourth quarter

Acadia will be added to the Holden line-up during the fourth quarter

A series looking at what's coming for GM's many brands and a couple of its Chinese joint ventures has so far covered Baojun, Wuling, GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac. The last piece in the General Motors puzzle is Holden. 

Holden has seen a major loss of market share in both Australia and New Zealand in recent years, which only accelerated after the closure of engine and car manufacturing operations. August was the worst month in the division's history for market share in Australia, its sales dipping to 4.57 per cent from 4.59 per cent in July. Compared to August 2017, Holden's numbers were down by 37.6 per cent.

Some of the GM Holden's problems are down to image and relevance. The brand hasn't connected with a lot of younger buyers and compared to multiple other brands, such as Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai, several models remained available for too long, their replacements either delayed or cancelled. Rumours - quickly and strongly denied - that GM might pull Holden from Australia and New Zealand have hardly helped matters.

Next year could well be a lot better if several imminent new vehicles prove to be popular. The first is the Acadia, a large crossover which will give Holden a strong weapon in the fight against the mighty Toyota Kluger. GM Korea should also start sending a second generation Trax Holden's way, while a facelifted Astra range could also give that unfairly overlooked model a boost. What Holden can do about sinking Commodore sales though, is a much tougher question.

Electrification?

There appears to be little interest for electrified vehicles in the Australian market. Most OEMs have adopted a wait and see approach and it's worth remembering that Holden was a pioneer with the Volt. That car was offered for three years commencing in 2012 but fewer than 250 were registered.

Cars

Holden has recently discontinued two small cars, each of which was manufactured by GM Korea. The Spark was the smaller of the two. It was axed in April after sales fell away. Then, just recently, the Barina was culled. This was the brand's version of the Chevrolet Aveo/Spark which is close to the end of its life anyway.

There could be a new Barina in 2019, built by GM Korea and based on the next Chevy Aveo/Sonic. Australians have always been keen on this class of car, as sales of the Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 (and even the VW Golf) show.

The Astra is available as a five-door hatchback and a wagon. These cars are built in Poland and England respectively.

A sedan was added in May 2017 but proved to be short-lived. This car was the same as the Chevrolet Cruze sold in South Korea and was sourced from there. Holden was the only GM division to rebadge GM Korea's sedan. The Astra four-door replaced the former Holden Cruze sedan. Production of the Holden Astra sedan came to an end in May which is when GM Korea stopped building all vehicles at its Gunsan plant.

The Astra hatchback and Sportwagon are due to be facelifted in 2019 and replaced during the final quarter of 2021. The next generation cars will likely be built by GM Korea.

Holden's latest Commodore has been a disappointment, although sales of large cars from non-premium brands have generally been in decline for some years in both of the brand's markets. The car is also revolutionary for a Commodore too, but not in ways which the market would prefer: front-wheel drive whereas all previous ones were rear-wheel drive, no V8, far less roomy as a wagon due to smaller dimensions and a hatchback instead of a sedan.

The current generation ZB series Commodore went on sale in Australia and New Zealand in February. There is a five-door hatchback and a wagon, both built in Germany by Opel at its Rüesselsheim plant. Apart from badges and six-cylinder engines, the Commodore is the same car as the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.

Powertrains are as follows:

  • 191kW & 350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, front-wheel drive, nine-speed auto
  • 125kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, front-wheel drive, eight-speed auto
  • 230kW & 370Nm 3.6-litre V6 petrol, all-wheel drive, nine-speed auto
  • 235kW & 381Nm 3.6-litre V6 petrol, all-wheel drive, nine-speed auto (VXR)

The bi-turbo 3.6-litre V6 from the previous Commodore and Opel Insignia OPC/Vauxhall Insignia VXR will not fit under the car's bonnet, both Opel and Holden PR staffers have told the media, which is the official reason for the naturally aspirated engine.

The Commodore Tourer, which is Holden's version of the Opel/Vauxhall Country Tourer and Buick Regal TourX, is almost 110mm and 20mm longer than the Commodore and Commodore Sportwagon respectively. Its suspension has an additional 20mm of travel and there are extended wheelarches.

Given how market segments have changed in Australia and New Zealand, and the lack of major interest in the existing Commodore, GM seems likely to discontinue the model's name once Opel stops building the current car in the early 2020s.

The current generation of Holden's Colorado ute (pick-up) went on sale in Australia and New Zealand in June 2012. The model is built alongside its twin, the Chevrolet Colorado, at GM's Rayong plant in Thailand. There are single cab, space cab and crew cab bodies, as well as 2.5- and 2.8-litre diesel engines.

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. GM will therefore have to develop the next Colorado on its own.

A facelifted Colorado was announced by Holden in August 2016 and there will probably be another restyle in 2019. The next Colorado could be as far off as 2022.

SUVs

Its only pick-up might now be a little on the aged side and its cars failing to excite but Holden has a good line-up when it comes to crossovers and SUVs. The smallest one, the GM Korea-built Trax, has been fairly successful over the last five years but a replacement is needed soon.

Holden's Trax comes down the same production line as the all but identical Chevrolet Trax at GM Korea's Bupyeong plant. Both of these are of course 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 replacement should use GM's G2XX architecture. There are conflicting reports about just when GM Korea will reveal its next Chevy Trax. It could be very soon but even if that happens, Holden won't have a new model in dealerships until 2019.

In the category above the Trax, Holden has the Delta architecture Equinox. This SUV went on sale in late 2017 as the overdue successor for the Captiva which had been discontinued in 2015.

Two turbocharged petrol engines were available from the start of sales: a 127kW and 275Nm 1.5-litre and a 188kW and 353Nm 2.0-litre. A 1.6-litre diesel was added in May. There should be a facelift in 2021 and a successor in 2024. The next Equinox will most likely be based on GM's VSS-S. This architecture is being developed for front- and all-wheel drive SUVs and crossovers.

An SUV which is based on the Colorado pick-up is also available as a Holden. This, the Trailblazer, started life in 2013 as the Colorado 7. There was a facelift in October 2016, which is when the name changed. A second facelift seems likely towards the end of 2019, with the replacement probably due in 2022.

The Acadia is to be added to Holden's range later in 2018. Production has just started at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee where the big, V6-engined crossover is built on the same line which produces the GMC Acadia.

Rising US sales of the GMC original as well as the addition of the right-hand drive Holden are the reasons for the return of a third shift to Spring Hill, commencing this month. Holden is expected to have the Acadia in showrooms during November.

A facelift is expected in 2020 and, potentially, another one in 2023. The second generation Acadia isn't due until 2026.

Recent reports for many other manufacturers' future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on the past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE.

The next manufacturer to be featured in the future models reports series will be SAIC.

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