When GM-Holden stopped production in Port Melbourne in 2017 and started importing Holden cars instead, we already knew of its impending closure. Still, GM’s announcement in early 2020 came as a shock. That was over a year ago, so what has been going on in the Holden world since then?
Holden's closure in early 2020 was anything but a quiet one. Several significant issues have kept the company in the news, mainly surrounding the sentiments of the government and indignant ex-Holden dealers on the company's way out.
Add to that the Holden customers who were left hanging on the issue of servicing, parts supply, and warranties. Holden’s commitments to customers weren't as initially promised. Lastly, what’s with General Motors' new company, GM Speciality Vehicles? Why close shop one day and open another one the next? We’ll get into that too.
The fallout from Holden’s closure in Australia is still an ongoing concern, so let’s catch up with the broad strokes by exploring the three critical issues mentioned above, all of which are hot topics surrounding Holden’s closure.
Let’s see what’s been happening with Holden since they closed shop.
The Holden Dealer Network Situation
Let’s start with one of the earliest issues tied to Holden’s departure last year. Here’s a short version: Holden and its network of dealers entered into lengthy negotiations about how much the dealers should be compensated for each new car they sold. Those negotiations didn’t go so well.
The figure that dealers put forth was $6,110 per car, but General Motors (Holden’s parent company) only offered a measly sum of $1,500. Despite all the back and forth, GM never budged from its price, not even by a little bit.
Worse yet, Aussie dealers learned that those in New Zealand were given $2,500 per new car instead!
Despite it all, a significant number of those former dealers had to take GM’s offer or risk getting nothing at all.
Needless to say, this left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths and even inviting a senate inquiry.
Even though most of the dealers, around 120 of them, took the 'lowball' deal offered by GM, the remaining dealers continue to fight for better compensation from the company.
What about Holden Customers?
Dealers aside, Holden also caused issues for its customers. Seeing as how Holden had a falling out with its network of dealers, there’s plenty of confusion about where Holden car owners should go to get their cars fixed or buy parts.
A lot of the former Holden dealers had already switched over to selling and servicing other car brands. So, what’s the Holden car owner supposed to do?
Well, when those 120-plus dealers accepted Holden’s compensation offer, it seems that they also signed agreements to continue providing service to existing Holden vehicle owners.
Presumably, what that means is that there are still over a hundred dealers who can service the Holdens running on Aussie roads. That suggests that existing Holden owners can still get service and parts of their cars, though their options for taking their vehicles are more limited than ever before.
GM Speciality Vehicles: What It Is and Why It Matters
If you’re still following the Holden story since its closure last year just about when the pandemic started, then you should know about GM Speciality Vehicles (GSMV).
After shutting down Holden, GM then opened up a new GM Specialty Vehicles company to continue selling some of its car models in Australia.
It didn’t take long for that step to raise a lot of red flags. To many, it seemed pretty apparent that GM just undermined their network of ex-Holden dealers and might now force them to compete with those under the GMSV banner.
The whole notion of GM shutting down Holden and then coming back up with a new company in the same market just doesn’t sit right with many people, from automotive industry groups all the way up to the Australian government.
Final Thoughts (For Now)
Everything that started with Holden’s closure in Australia in 2020 to date has never been without drama. As you can see from what we’ve explored above, Holden’s departure wasn’t an isolated issue.
For instance, its effects aren’t just limited to one group of stakeholders. Holden’s former dealers were affected, and so were their customers. Worse yet, the drama continue with GM’s insertion of GM Specialty Vehicles into the very same market that they vacated.
More importantly, this isn’t just a matter circling the automotive industry. As we’ve also seen earlier, there’s high-level government interest in all of these problems, primarily because GM benefited from government subsidies.
Bottom line? Car companies around the world come and go; that’s a natural cycle. But with Holden, its departure caused a lot of unhappiness among a lot of parties, and we’re likely to see more news of it coming soon.
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By Ray Hasbollah