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Smooth transition to imported Holden Commodore

Next up: While Holden is yet to announce what global GM car the next Commodore will be based on, it is widely believed to share its underpinnings with the next-gen Opel Insignia (current model shown).

Imported Holden Commodore set to launch straight after local manufacturing ceases

9 Aug 2016

HOLDEN has revealed there will be no time delay with the release of the imported next-generation Commodore once Australian production of the current model ceases during the last quarter of 2017.

While the company has not yet communicated which global model will be used as the imported Commodore – widely anticipated to be the new-generation Opel/Vauxhall Insignia from Europe – Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said the transition from the Australian-manufactured large car to the new one would be seamless.

“(The next Commodore) will follow on like the next generation of any normal product,” Mr Bernhard confirmed to GoAuto at the launch of the MY17 Holden Colorado in Queensland this week.

“We will have an orderly runout of the current generation of Commodore and lead us into the next generation of Commodore.”

Mr Bernhard confirmed that the imported model would be in showrooms by the end of next year, adding: “We’re not in a position at the moment to announce what that vehicle is, but that’s the assumption that it will follow on shortly after the end of production.”

Leading up to the end of manufacturing in Australia, Mr Bernhard said the company would neither follow what Ford has done in the paring down of derivatives like the ute, nor stockpile vehicles to sell well into the following year.

13 center imageLeft: Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard.

“The current plan is to continue to build all the derivatives all the way through,” Mr Bernhard revealed. “If customer demand changes, obviously we will need to change those plans, but at this stage, we’ll see everything through – V6, V8, and each of the derivatives.”

Along with the Commodore sedan, utility and Sportwagon, Holden builds the long-wheelbase Caprice, as well as the Cruze small car, although the latter’s production will be wound down on October 7 this year – the same day Ford Australia pulls the plug on local manufacturing.

As GoAuto has reported, the company also plans to close its Port Melbourne engine plant by the end of the year, stockpiling V6 engines for use in the final local Commodore and derivatives in 2017.

Mr Bernhard said he understands the intense interest surrounding whether the next mid-size Insignia – currently in the final stages of development and due for release in Europe in the second half of next year – turns out to be the 2018 Commodore.

However, he emphasised that Holden has just embarked on one of the busiest launch periods in its 68-year history, with two vital new models – the updated Colorado and the Cruze-replacing Astra – to be released in Australia by the end of this year as part of the 2014 announcement of 24 model launches by 2020.

“We don’t have any firm plans on when we will announce,” he told GoAuto. “We still need to work through those. At the moment we’re here to talk about Colorado, and once we get through Colorado, we will start to put our minds to other vehicles as well. We have Astra coming up at the end of this year.

“The good news is what we have a lot of new product coming out and a lot of other things to talk about, and we just need to work through each of those … When we announce each of them (we will) give each of the products a clear runway. We have a fantastic next six months with product coming out.”

While Mr Bernhard said Holden never divulges the internal volume expectations of any new model, he believes the imported Commodore will remain a viable sales proposition.

“What our sales are will be based on customers,” he said. “Our job is to have a portfolio of products that appeals to those diverse customer needs and different customer segments. The market continues to evolve, and we need to have forecasts where that needs to be, but ultimately it’s how nimble we can be in meeting that customer demand.”

VFII Commodore sales are down 3.6 per cent to the end of July this year with 15,223 sales, although it remains a dominant force in the sub-$70,000 large-car segment with a 74.1 per cent share.

In contrast, the Ford Falcon – which reaches the end of the line in two months’ time – has continued to spiral downward, falling 23.9 per cent this year to just 2819 registrations for a 13.7 per cent share.

Asked if he was tempted to import the Chevrolet Camaro pony car considering the US-built Ford Mustang’s incredible reception in Australia, with waiting lists stretching up to two years, Mr Bernhard said demand for the Commodore V8 was even stronger and that the company had already announced that a sportscar of similar appeal is well under development with input from Holden engineers.

“Ford has done a great job with Mustang,” Mr Bernhard said. “(But) we’re selling more V8s (in Commodore) than they are … so we’re pretty happy with the portfolio of product that we’ve got today.

“(GM International Operations president) Stefan Jacobi has announced that we will have a sportscar, and we continue to work on that sportscar.

“But at the moment, we need to focus on the cars that we are building, and cars that customers are certainly voting with their wallets that they want.”

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