After weeks of speculation, and following the recent departure of Chairman David Buttner, Holden has announced it is to retire the Commodore nameplate and modify its portfolio to dedicate itself exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles.
Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said the focus of the portfolio was consistent with customer preferences, with the Acadia, Trailblazer, Equinox and Trax rounding out an SUV model inventory, with the Colorado in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment. The company has elected to retire the ZB Commodore and the BK Astra in 2020.
“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments,” said Mr Aquilina. “So far this year, SUVs and Utes have increased to 76 per cent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing.
“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he added.
“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.
“The SUV segment is approaching half a million units, and LCVs over 200,000 units. That’s where the action is and that’s where we are going to play.”
At its peak, said Holden, the large car segment in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. This year it is projected to come in at about 8,700 units.
Sales and deliveries of Commodore and Astra will continue through 2020. The company said that existing Commodore and Astra customers can be assured that Holden will continue to back warranty and roadside assistance commitments, with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future.
Focusing on the SUV and LCV segments might make sense, but Holden continues to struggle to make an impression with consumers. In the latest new car sales data, released in November by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Holden sold a reported 2668 units, a result that was apparently the brand’s worst ever monthly result. It was less than a decade ago that the company was selling more than 100,000 cars a year and for 15 years from 1996 to 2010, the Commodore took the title of Australia’s best-selling car. More than one million Commodores were sold during that period.