Holdens have long been exported as Chevrolets. Latest is 2014 SS for US, succeeding G8 dropped with Pontiac brand

Holdens have long been exported as Chevrolets. Latest is 2014 SS for US, succeeding G8 dropped with Pontiac brand

Holden could become Chevrolet once General Motors shuts its Australian manufacturing operations in 2017, a local media report said.

Insidiers have told respected local journalist Joshua Dowling of news.com.au Holden has secretly been fighting to protect the iconic Australian brand from extinction for the past decade.

Holden boss Mike Devereux told News Corp Australia: "Holden is here to stay. Holden has been a part of Australia's past ... and it will part of its future for decades to come.

"Holden is one of the most valuable brands in Australia. We are committed to the brand for the long term. The brand is going to be a part of the fabric of this country for a very long time."

But Dowling reported General Motors headquarters in Detroit wanted to kill the Holden nameplate during the global financial crisis, along with the Hummer and Pontiac brands, but the then boss of Holden Mark Reuss fought against it.

"There will now be the biggest fight ever to save the Holden brand from being shelved," a Holden insider told News Corp Australia.

"Every time there is a new boss of Holden or a new head of General Motors, the question is asked, 'Why do we still have the Holden brand in Australia?'.

"Now that (Holden) won't be making cars and there won't be anything unique about the vehicles, the debate is going to come up again and it will be hard to win. There will be massive implications for the brand."

By remaining an orphan brand, the report noted, Holden misses out on global Chevrolet marketing campaigns, such as the US$600m seven year sponsorship deal with superstar soccer team Manchester United.

One insider said the switch to Chevrolet could happen if General Motors believes the Holden brand image has been damaged by the shutdown of its factories.

"There is no emotion in this," he said. "It will all come down to money. If General Motors thinks sales will go down because the Holden brand is on the nose, then they will switch it to Chevrolet."

News Corp Australia said it understood it would cost between A$500,000 and A$1m to rebrand each of its 233 dealerships nationwide, and that General Motors would foot half the bill for each showroom, forcing Holden dealers to pick up the rest of the tab or lose the franchise.

There would also need to be a smaller rebranding operation across the Tasman in New Zealand where the brand has been sold since 1953 - Holden started in Australia in 1948.

One insider reportedly revealed Holden has been forced to conduct exhaustive research with Australian car buyers to prove the case to Detroit that the Holden brand is worth saving.

"The amount of money we've spent trying to defend the Holden brand to Detroit is ridiculous," he said.

"But when executives from North America come out to Australia, they take photos of Chevrolet badges that people have fitted to their Holden utes, and use that against us."

The last time Holden won the argument with Detroit to save the proud Lion badge, it got a stay of execution because Holden agreed to "soften" its image and focus on technology.

Devereux will not be responsible for any brand name decision by 2017; he starts his new international role for General Motors next February.

"The Holden brand is here to stay. I can rule out today any change to the Holden brand," he said in a statement.

Holdens have been sold abroad as Chevrolets at least since the late 1960s - South Africa used to build unique models such as the Constantia and Kommando, some fitted with locally made Chevy engines, replacing earlier US-sourced models. The HQ Statesman was shipped to some markets - including New Zealand - as the Chevrolet 350 and the Commodore has more recently gone to South Africa, Brazil and the US as a Chevrolet.

Holden used to assemble about 1,500 Canadian made Chevrolets a year until 1969 when GM International decided Holden would become a key source of large RHD cars instead.