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Holden still eyeing market leadership

Just the beginning: Holden has already kicked off its product renaissance with Opel-built models including the Astra (left), Insignia and Cascada, but there is more on the way.

GM International boss Jacoby says Holden can still be number one

Holden logo10 Feb 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE head of General Motors International Operations says Holden can still achieve market leadership in Australia by 2020, despite sales slipping last year and another change of managing director.

The lofty goal was first mooted by former Holden chief Gerry Dorizas in April last year – just five weeks after he commenced the role – when he told Australian journalists that following the closure of all local automotive manufacturing in 2017, Toyota's market lead would contract, giving other car-makers an opportunity to improve their own share.

Mr Dorizas quit the position in October last year, just seven months after taking the role, with the car-maker confirming last week it had found a replacement in Australian-born long-time Holden executive Mark Bernhard.

Speaking at a press conference last week in Sydney to confirm Mr Bernhard's appointment, General Motors executive vice president and president of General Motors International Stefan Jacoby reiterated the original goal, saying it was more than just sales it was hoping to improve.

“I think it is a challenging objective and when we say we want to be the number one, we want to be the number one not only in respect of sales, but we want to transform this business into sustainable profitability,” he said.

 center imageLeft: General Motors executive vice president and president of GM International Stefan Jacoby.

“And a perfect customer experience, with a really appealing product range in the market as well so there is more than just saying we want to be the market leader.

“I think we need to see this on a broader perspective. I think we are moving on all the elements of this business. We have initiated the brand campaign... we are improving customer satisfaction, we are working on a product portfolio.”

Mr Jacoby added that the coming years transitioning from a manufacturer to a full-line importer would not be easy, but reaffirmed his company's commitment to achieving market leadership.

“Of course we are on this very difficult transition to a national sales company with a lot of challenges in respect of our employees. And we are managing this well and we still have the aspiration to be on the top of the market here in Australia.”

Mr Jacoby said the timing around when it would achieve market leadership was not critical and highlighted Holden's history in Australia as an example of how strong the brand is.

“If it is 2020 to 2022, that is not that important. I think we need to have an aspirational objective. And that objective fits to what Holden has as a potential. It is an iconic Australian brand. It has been an automotive brand in Australia since 1948, we have been producing cars under that iconic brand name.

“We have had success and we want to continue with this success and of course General Motors as one of the biggest global auto-makers, we have the aspiration to be the number one.” Mr Jacoby said Holden would continue to grow its market share, and despite sales slipping 5.3 per cent last month compared with the corresponding month in 2013, said the car-maker “delivered above all expectation” last month.

“Honestly, I think that with all of the challenges in the market, that we should not lose market share, that we look forward and that we should maintain our market position in Australia.”

Holden's overall market share slipped to 9.5 per cent with 106,092 sales in 2014, down from 9.9 per cent and 112,059 in 2013. It is also well off the dizzy highs of 2002's record haul of 178,392 when it had a 21.6 per cent share of the market compared with Toyota's 19.2 per cent slice.

The final locally built Commodore was the country's favourite large car last year, and Holden's top seller, with 15,161 sales, while the other Australian-produced model, the Cruze dipped by 24 per cent to 18,554 units.

During the press conference, Mr Jacoby also confirmed that Holden would introduce 24 “major” new models and 36 powertrain combinations by 2020.

The product offensive kicks off in the second quarter of this year with the introduction of the Opel-sourced Insignia VXR performance sedan, Astra GTC three-door and VXR hot hatch and Cascada convertible.

Holden has previously confirmed that at least one third of its Australian line-up would consist of European-built product once Australian production ends in 2017, with the remainder likely to come from South Korea, Thailand and the United States.

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