October 05, 2019

Horse 2604 - Holden's Slide To Irrelevancy Continues

September 2019 sales (from VFACTS).
3364 - Toyota HiLux
3116 - Ford Ranger
3001 - Mitsubishi Triton
2447 - Hyundai i30
2419 - Mitsubishi ASX
2355 - Mazda CX-5
2219 - Toyota Corolla
2022 - Kia Cerato
1769 - Nissan X-Trail
1731 - Mitsubishi Outlander

Both Holden and Ford have continued their paths to irrelevancy; with Ford having only their Ranger in the top ten car sales and Holden having no cars in the top ten of monthly car sales figures for the first time since 1948.

That in itself is significant. Ford have sort of transitioned to their new position of being just another import car company by at least trying to stay somewhat relevant with the Mustang, their ST and RS lines and the venerable Ranger but General Motors have not.
People have dumped Holden like a plate of cold sick after the brand which had built itself as quintessentially Australian is now about as Australian as Baseball, Kimchi, Bróckelwurst, and Chevrolet. As I write this post while heading southbound across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, my highly unscientific sample of 200 cars includes precisely zero Holdens.
I have said in a previous blog post that I as a consumer hold part of the collective responsibility for the downfall of what once was a cultural institution in that I personally have never owned a Holden because I lived on the blue side of the holy war and I went out and bought a Japanese car, from a factory in a Japanese city which had a nuclear bomb dropped on it.

It is a pity as there is nothing inherently bad about the Opel built Astra or ZB Commodore; thee Arcadia is just plain anonymous, and the Colorado is just short of being mediocre.
The ZB Commodore hits pretty close to the same price points as the VF that it replaced, though there is a little bit of rejink if you want to buy the 3.6L V6 engine option.
The LGX from what I can determine is actually the same engine as the LFX but rotated through ninety degrees and driving the front wheels rather than the rear wheels. I am sure that if Holden was allowed to play with the car, they would have shoehorned the LS3 V8 into the front of it but Detroit having taken away all manufacturing from Australia seems intent on making us suffer. There is also no ute option and the Colorado comes with a shorter tray bed and a weaker choice of engines but manages to play the amazing trick of being less capable but more expensive that the Commodore Ute that it replaced (replacement by default; not by class).

If you look at the volume sellers in Australia, the top ten is made up of two broad kinds of cars - the tradies' trucks, which are almost always being bought by businesses and being put through the books of private companies (which means that you and I as taxpayers are subsidising them); and smallish hatchback/wagon things. We have managed to collectively rebrand jacked up wagons as SUVs but they do not in reality offer that much extra utility than a wagon would do.
Ford have their Focus and Escape in that general market but Holden have the Astra and Arcadia which are all pretty anonymous in the market. Holden will eventually suffer the future indignance of losing the Astra because Opel who makes the car has been sold to PSA Group. As far as I know, General Motors have no plans to release a replacement small car in Australia.

It is little wonder then that Holden should suffer the worst sales month in the brand's history as it slides towards irrelevancy. It is pretty clear that General Motors have no long term game plan whatsoever and that as Australia is a very small and competitive market, they simply do not care.
It is curious when you consider that Holden still maintain headline sponsorship of Triple Eight Racing in the Supercars Championship, even though they are now shifting less cars in a month than ever before. Triple Eight Engineering own the proprietary intellectual property which underpins the race car; so I suspect that the ZB Commodore will become a legacy property just like the Falcon did and the Nissan Altima is currently. I have no idea what if anything is going to replace it in the future.
My further suspicion is that Holden is still a convenient label to put on top of anything that General Motors want to sell. There was some speculation about whether or not the badge would be going away but I think that the brand presence is sufficient to close out any notion that there would be Chevrolet bowties or the Cadillac label on cars in the future.

No comments: