It is no longer news now that Holden is shutting down its Australia operation. Painful as it is to Holden brand lovers, there may be a silver lining.
When the news of Holden closure hit our desk, we were stunned at best and heartbroken at worst. Not that we hadn't seen this as a possible outcome from the get-go, we were not anticipating it.
We are sure that we were not the only ones caught on the hop. With that, let's take another look at what's on the horizon.
A while ago, GM revealed that it was pulling the plug on Holden in Australia and New Zealand. This decision brought an end to the 164-year old name that has become popular with makes such as Commodore. Many were left in distraught as the revelation meant the death of one of Australia's iconic brands that had survived several generations.
So, what next?
As soon as the news settled, it didn't take long before most Aussie Holden lovers asked, "What next?"
The plan is to shut down a larger part of Holden's operation in the country by the end of June. It will include the engineering and design divisions. The remaining divisions will likely follow suit by August.
The number of units of Holden models that are still in stock has not yet been disclosed. A rough estimate points out that the figure is in the range of thousands. Nonetheless, it is likely that by the end of the year, all will have been sold out.
What about Parts and Services?
Those who already own Holden vehicles have nothing to fret about. Holden has plans in progress to build after-sales networks for those who already have Holden cars as well as those buying the remaining ones. The company announced that it will still offer spare parts and service for the next ten years.
In addition to spares and servicing, Holden's after-sales network will also manage any safety concerns that may arise and recalls. What is yet to be clear, however, is the number of service outlets that will be open across the country. The company, however, did say that each of the existing dealers will be allowed to transform into a service centre. Further, the company confirmed that all warranties and services offers would remain unchanged.
One Door Closes, another Opens
In hindsight, there may be better news regarding the Australian Car Market. Sure, Holden's name is receding from sight, but GM isn't gone yet. The US-owned company announced that it would introduce the GM Speciality Vehicles to the local market.
There is no straight definition of these vehicles from GM. All we know at the moment is that the company plans to maintain an "ongoing niche presence." GM has yet to reveal the specifics, but if this plan pushes through, it would be the likes of the Corvette, Camaro, and Silverado.
The Chevrolet Corvette is probably the safest bet as the company had already ploughed money into the project. The big worry then is, whether the Corvette will come to Australia or not.
GM International Operations Senior VP Julian Blissett said, "Corvette right-hand drive will still exist" as the carmaker is already developing it.
Chevrolet Corvette, RHD
Last year, Holden announced that it would bring in the next generation of Chevrolet Corvette in the 2020/2021 calendar. The Corvette will be sold under the General Motor Speciality Vehicles sub-brand.
GM has been working on providing the car in a right-hand-drive configuration since the American LHD models have no place in the Australian market and other RHD markets.
The Corvette is expected in local showrooms next year. Other models that may join the list include the Camaro SS, Camaro ZL1, Silverado 1500, and the Silverado 2500. Additional models from the US could expand this list even further.
Tadge Juechter, the Corvette's Chief Engineer, spoke of the move to bring the Corvettes to Australia as a gamble, saying that what they're taking is a bit of a bet for right-hand drive.
Gamble or not, we can't be any happier that it is coming.
"Like anyone with a hint of petrol in their veins, we were glued to our screens watching the reveal of the new Corvette," spoke Dave Buttner, Chairman and MD Holden. He expressed that GM's plans to roll out right-hand drive Corvettes and export these to Australia "is hugely exciting for our team at Holden and any Australian who loves high-performance cars."
General Motor's president Mark Reuss also had a say on the topic, acknowledging how Corvette represented the "pinnacle of innovation and boundary-pushing at GM" and explained the limits of the traditional front-engine layout and why there was a need to replace it. The new generation will still have the look and feel of the traditional Corvette but drive better than any model before it. Customers have GM's promise that they have focused on details and performance across the board.
The new-generation Corvette boasts of upgrades in almost all aspects compared to its predecessors. Thanks to the mid-engine layout, it will have better control sense, responsiveness, and weight distribution. It is worth noting that the car will have the fastest 0-97 km/h time in its line.
The production of this Corvette generation already commenced at the Bowling Green Facility. Stay tuned to get more updates about the Corvette in Australia as soon as we catch wind of any news or details.
By Sam O.