General Motors Axes Holden in Pivot to Electric Vehicles

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General Motors has announced the axing of Australian subsidiary, Holden, as the manufacturer looks to underpin its portfolio with autonomous and electric vehicles.

The announcement came via interim chairman and managing director of GM Holden’s operations in Australia, Kristian Aquilina, who told the media at a press conference that the Holden brand is set to be retired in 2021; stopping sales, design and engineering operations.

“This is a tough day for the Holden family,” he said, stating that “challenging circumstances” and “multiple discussions” with head office in the US had led to an “inescapable reality” that the Holden brand was set to be axed as GM moves into the future.

“The truth, the hard truth, is that there was no way to come up with a plan to support a growing and competitive Holden brand and sufficient return to our investors,” he said.

According to Renew Economy’s Bridie Schmidt, “the truth of the matter, it would seem, it that the cost of GM keeping up with the transition to electric mobility inevitabl[y] means it must prune what has become a dead brand- a fact that was made clear in a statement from GM boss Marry Barra.”

In her statement, Barra said in relation to Holden officially closing its doors that “I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times.”

“We are restructuring our international operations, focussing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of EVs and AVs,” in relation to electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.

In November of 2018, General Motors made the announcement that in order to pay for the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles, it would shut down five factories producing internal combustion engines. The company has since previewed all-electric variants of the iconic Hummer, and has a new Chevrolet-branded electric car currently in development.

Holden ceased domestic manufacturing in 2017 after a number of restructuring plans, and in 2019, the company had sold the least cars since 1954.

General Motors has said that it will be forced to lay off 600 staff by 2021, while retaining 200 to service the owners of around 1.6 million Holden vehicles currently on the road and offer maintenance for another 10 years.

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