Skip To Content Skip To Menu

Holden Blackwells Holden 1

Holden brand gone by 2021

MTA Dealer Sector Manager Tony Everett discusses the impact on dealerships.
Holden dealerships, who were well into a new, expensive branding exercise, are hoping their recent capital outlay will be reimbursed as part of the company’s exit from the market.
Several dealers who have recently opened new showrooms are also believed to be negotiating a suitable compensation package.

The sudden announcement affects 31 New Zealand dealerships who manage 41 Holden outlets. MTA understands that the conversations with Holden’s representatives are positive and it appears General Motors and Holden are taking a fair-minded approach to the retirement of the Holden brand. There will be a wind-down process and opportunities to continue to supply parts and services to Holden owners. However, hardest hit will be those dealerships that are solely Holden franchisees.

It’s possible some may pick up a franchise from a brand keen to expand into that particular town, or area, or onto a stand-alone site. Over the next several months we can expect to see a lot of activity among franchisees and the brands as they reassess their positions within local markets and juggle for advantage. I expect dealerships within other brands to also be affected as everyone will be looking at the opportunities that come out of Holden’s exit. For instance, it could be a chance for brands who are unhappy with a particular situation to look for a new site and entity to represent them. Those dealerships with multiple franchises, including Holden, will be looking at ways to maintain their profile and leverage off the relationships they have with their brands.

Brand ‘re-shuffling’ has already begun among brands and franchisees. With an absence of franchise law in New Zealand and so many livelihoods and jobs at stake, we can only hope that all those involved negotiate with fairness and in good faith.

Reach out for help

From the MTA perspective, we are keeping in close contact with the Holden dealerships and offering both our legal, mediation and welfare support. All MTA members, their staff and their families are eligible for free counselling via the national EAP counselling service and we encourage anyone who feels they need some extra support to pick up the phone. Our legal service offers free initial assessment of individual situations and recommendations for any further action.

Background

Holden has a 70-year history in Australasia and there are now around 1.6 million Holdens on the roads. But its owner, General Motors, has struggled to make the right-hand drive model pay its way within the global setting. It has now vacated all the RHD markets.
Holden Australia production began in 1948 with the FX and then the FJ Holden, followed by many more iconic models.
In New Zealand, General Motors began assembling Australian-made components (CKD) in its Petone plant in 1957. The last Holden rolled off their Trentham assembly line in 1990. In Australia, the last Holden to be made in that country was the Commodore which ceased production in 2017, causing a backlash among the Aussie Holden lovers. Sales of the replacement European-sourced Commodore, models dropped by over 60 percent on the previous year, further adding to General Motors woes. GM had already stopped supplying RHD vehicles for most of its markets, so perhaps the writing was on the wall for Australia and New Zealand. GM will no longer make RHD models and is concentrating on its US and China markets. It is also putting a lot of investment into electric vehicle technology.

Final words

We can expect more upheaval over the next decade as car manufacturers continue to merge and consolidate to support their massive investment in new technology. Some brands will drop off as the globals rationalise their investment.Currently the Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi group is talking to the Fiat Chrysler group. These consolidations help spread development costs over higher collective volumes.
In addition, New Zealand is a very small market. Can we really sustain 40 or so brands? If the Government’s Clean Car proposals go ahead, this too could impact on dealers, as some brands may not fare well. Whatever the future, the only certainty, as the saying goes, is that change is inevitable. Holden has a 70-year history in Australasia and there are now around 1.6 million Holdens on the roads. But its owner, General Motors, has struggled to make the right-hand drive model pay its way within the global setting. It has now vacated all the RHD markets.

Holden Australia production began in 1948 with the FX and then the FJ Holden, followed by many more iconic models.