Commodore future in buyers hands
Mike Devereux, Chairman and Managing Director GM Holden Ltd.

In the same week Ford has come under the spotlight regarding its future as a manufacturer in Australia, Holden boss Mike Devereux has hinted that the future of the Commodore was also unclear.

While Holden has made a commitment to continue building two model lines in Australia until at least 2022, what is not clear is what cars they will build.

The Elizabeth production facility in South Australia currently manufactures the Cruze small sedan and hatchback and the large Commodore sedan, wagon and ute.

At the launch of the Volt EV in Sydney last week, Mr Devereux said Holden needed to sell at least 2000 cars per month for production in this country to remain viable.

The Cruze is easily meeting that criteria, with average monthly sales of nearly 2800, and that has been steadily increasing over the past 12 months.

While the Commodore is selling in sufficient numbers today (2600 per month), its popularity is on the decline. After being the best-selling car in Australia for the past 15 years, it is now in a battle to remain in the top five as Australians trade in their bigger cars for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The heavily revised VF Commodore, which is due in showrooms in 2013 and will be exported to the US as a Chevrolet-badged SS Performance sedan later in the year, will need to reverse the trend to ensure the Commodore remains on the Australian motoring landscape in the future.

Mr Devereux said the challenge for him and Holden was to correctly forecast which two cars were going to hit a chord with Australian car buyers in the next decade.

"Australia is the most brutal market in the world," he said.

"There are 65 brands competing for one million sales; there is no tougher place to try to sell a car."

While Mr Devereux was not willing to talk specifics, the success of the Captiva - which could be built on the same platform as the new-generation Cruze due for release in 2015 - makes it a logical candidate for local production.

He also reiterated that Holden would not be able to continue producing cars here without continued Federal Government assistance.

"This plant (in Elizabeth) would cease to exist if the co-investment program was stopped," he said. "It's illogical to think that this plant can exist with no assistance when every other country offers assistance to their car industries."

The Federal and South Australian governments injected $225m and $50m respectively alongside a $1 billion boost from parent company General Motors in April this year to secure Holden's future until 2020.

It is the least amount of government assistance offered by any car-making country.

The West Australian

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