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Holden here to stay: Reuss

Long haul: GM vice-president for global product development Mark Reuss has committed to the long-term viability of Holden in Australia, dismissing rumours the brand could follow Opel and Vauxhall and be offloaded to another company.

GM engineering chief says Holden will fight back as an importer

Holden logo21 Aug 2018

GENERAL Motors executive vice-president for global product development Mark Reuss has pledged GM’s full support for Holden, saying there is no chance that the company will offload the Australian franchise as it did Opel and Vauxhall.
 
“This is part of who we are and always has been,” he said. “We are either in the game or not, and we see Holden as a fundamental part of the company. We take that very seriously.”
 
American-born Mr Reuss – a former Holden managing director between 2008 and 2009 and son of a former GM president – is best known for his role in keeping Holden alive when its parent company collapsed financially in the global financial crisis.
 
Then based in Melbourne, Mr Reuss famously went to Canberra to convince the federal government to guarantee a line of credit for Holden to keep it going when dark days loomed.
 
In Australia today to announce far brighter news – a major expansion of Holden engineering with 150 new jobs – Mr Reuss said Australia was a tough place to sell cars but that Holden had the product and team under new managing director Dave Buttner to rise again.
 
Mr Reuss said Mr Buttner – former president of Toyota Australia – had a wonderful opportunity to take Holden forward.
 
He said Australia was a difficult market in which to do automotive business due to the competition, but that GM would support that growth.
 
Mr Reuss said the change from manufacturer to importer was invigorating for Holden, with more new products to come.
 
“Holden is different to what we were, and that is pretty exciting,” he said.
 
He said Holden had been in a difficult position in the GFC, and was experiencing a down time now after the end of local manufacturing.
 
“We got through it then (in the GFC), and we will get through it now,” he said. “We have to support Holden in a big way.”
 
Mr Reuss said GM had given no thought to changing Holden’s name to another from the GM stable (such as Chevrolet or Buick), because the name was entrenched in Australia.
 
Mr Reuss said he had known of Mr Buttner when he was based in Australia, and fully supported the appointment.
 
Asked how Holden would handle the ultimate loss of Opel-developed and -built products from its range – including the new German-built Commodore and Astra small car – Mr Reuss said he could not disclose GM’s agreements with Opel and its new owners, PSA Group.
 
However, he said the platforms under those cars were GM global architectures, and were built in a number of other GM locations around the world.
 
Mr Reuss said the Australian engineering unit operating within GM’s Advanced Vehicle Development division meant Australia and Holden would be at the leading edge of automotive development.
 
He said his experience with the people of Australia and Holden had been extraordinary.
 
“It is great to be back for a visit – really great to be back,” he said.

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