With the demand that came out of Detroit in 2013, after the then Treasurer Joe Hockey thundered and dared the motor manufacturers in Australia to leave, Holden announced that the sword of Damocles was about to spike it through the head; and on October 31 this year, the last Commodore will roll off the assembly line and into automotive history.
Now that Holden has been condemned to swing in the breeze like a corpse in a noose, another announcement was made that could render the plans for the Commodore's replacement impossible.
PSA Group's (PEUP.PA) proposed acquisition of Opel would swiftly create savings and value from the General Motors (GM.N) European division's turnaround and complementary brands, the French carmaker's Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said on Thursday.
Adding GM's German Opel and British Vauxhall brands would bring new customers reluctant to buy French cars, Tavares told analysts and reporters, while generating savings from shared technical underpinnings.
- Reuters, 23rd Feb 2017.
As an importer, Holden will have no choice but to accept what General Motors decides to foist upon it. When it comes to making decisions about the future model line up, the CEO of Holden will be like a Muscovite in a supermarket in 1989: it will have a choice of whatever is on the shelf at the time and it will be wrong.
The announcement that General Motors is looking to off load Opel/Vauxhall, possibly to the Citröen-PSA group means that a lot of its choices will be immediately eliminated. I understand that if the sale does go through, that General Motors is demanding that the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to PSA Group includes a non-compete clause which would prevent PSA Group from selling Opel cars in North America, Russia and China. That probably would also include vehicles currently traded within General Motors and that seriously affects Holden because many of the cars in its line up are sourced from Opel. They would all need to go away.
The following graphic, which I've edited from Holden's website shows just how much trouble Holden is in:
http://www.holden.com.au - as at 27th Feb 2017.
Green = Opel cars which will not be available to Holden if sold to PSA Group
Red = No future RHD models exist. Malibu ends in Jun 2017. Cruze ends in Oct 2017.
Black = Discontinued. Production ends Oct 2017; along with the end of motor manufacturing in Australia.
Of all the cars in the current line up, the Cascada, Astra and Astra Coupe, Insginia and by inference the Next-Gen Commodore, all dissapear because they are Opel sourced; the Cruze and Malibu both dissapear because they are Chevrolets with no future Right Hand Drive variants; and the Commodore, Ute, Wagon and Caprice also all dissapear because they are being discontinued when GM finally kicks Australian manufacturing to death in October.
That leaves the Spark, Barina, Trax, Captiva, Trailblazer and Colorado as the entire lineup. That's two small cars, two SUVs and a pickup truck.
Quite probably all of this could be wrong and part of the terms of sale would be that the PSA Group would have to honour existing delivery contracts but when they came up for renewal, I don't honestly see PSA wanting Opel/Vauxhall to compete with Renault/Peugeot/Citroen in Europe and they certainly wouldn't want the extra effort of converting cars to Right Hand Drive for export to a tiny market like Australia.
Exactly what Holden is supposed to do is totally beyond me. Without Opel/Vauxhalls, they effectively lose access to most of the Right Hand Drive cars that they could have sourced and if they are retained as a General Motors brand, they are basically the only market where largish cars are sold in Right Hand Drive. General Motors' efforts to sell cars in Japan have always been pathetic, they don't even offer large cars in India, which leaves Holden in Australia and New Zealand. In South Africa, Chevrolet's entire lineup already is only five cars; with the Cruze being discontinued later this year.
If 2018 is too soon, then in 2020, Holden has a serious existence problem, if it already hasn't fallen through the floor already.
I know that this is the least important thing of this whole deal but I wonder what this means for the V8Supercars. Ford's Falcon is discontinued and competes in 2017 as a legacy model, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have already withdrawn; Nissan would probably prefer to use its GTR; which leaves Holden who would have no big car in their lineup at all unless they import the Camaro.
Aside 2: - My offer to buy the Holden motor for $1 is still on the table.