14 Mus­cle News

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Paul Gover has, at last, some good news to re­port from Port Mel­bourne about Holden’s prov­ing ground and from Broad­mead­ows. Sug­gested song to play in your head while read­ing this sec­tion: ‘Hal­lelu­jah’ by KD Lang (Lang).

Ten years of backpedalling at Fish­er­mans Bend is over. Holden is go­ing back on the of­fen­sive to pro­tect its Aus­tralian her­itage and heart­land sup­port, as well as cre­at­ing the cars it will need to give the brand its es­sen­tial im­pact once the Com­modore is dead.

It has just com­mit­ted to a group of go-faster com­pact cars from Opel, is tick­ling the lo­cal­ly­made Cruze and Com­modore with a se­ries of spe­cial edi­tion mod­els, says Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles is safe, and has back-flipped on the de­ci­sion to close Lang Lang.

“We have had a de­fen­sive strat­egy over the last 10 years. We move to an of­fence strat­egy,” the head of Gen­eral Mo­tors In­ter­na­tional Op­er­a­tions, Ste­fan Ja­coby, says as he out­lines the new di­rec­tion.

“We are here for the long haul. We are putting in place the right plans to make Holden a suc­cess for many years to come.”

Ja­coby is the key man for Holden, as he was hired into GM – and, in turn, also hired Gerry Dorizas from out­side as pres­i­dent of Holden – and does not work to a pre­dictable Detroit-cen­tric plan. He is talk­ing strong on Holden and how the com­pany will drive for­ward.

“Over the last cou­ple of months we have de­vel­oped our strat­egy for Aus­tralia.

“We have a global prod­uct strat­egy for Aus­tralia,” says Ja­coby.

“GM is un­der­go­ing a trans­for­ma­tion that is com­mit­ted to driv­ing our mar­kets – like Aus­tralia – to­wards suc­cess. We are fo­cussed on the longterm fun­da­men­tals, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing Holden re­tains its proud Aus­tralian iden­tity and pro­vides cus­tomers with the best pos­si­ble cars.”

Ja­coby’s ag­gres­sive talk is backed by Dorizas, who al­ready has ev­ery­one in the man­age­ment team at Holden wear­ing a red lion lapel badge as a sign of their com­mit­ment to the com­pany.

“We are work­ing to­gether to build a strong fu­ture for Holden. What is clear to me is that Holden is one of the strong­est brands in Aus­tralia,” he says, sit­ting be­side Ja­coby at Holden HQ.

“We need to en­sure that we con­tinue to build a bright and suc­cess­ful fu­ture

“To­day marks an im­por­tant first step in the fu­ture of Holden. One of many.”

The first piece of the puzzle is the re­turn of Opel cars, a ma­jor back­flip that fol­lows an at­tempt to sell the brand as a stand­alone in Aus­tralia. It shows Holden is mov­ing to a two-tier strat­egy that will marry cheap Korean cars with classy im­ports from other coun­tries in­clud­ing Ger­many and – quite likely – the USA un­der the um­brella brand.

The Cas­cada con­vert­ible is the new Holden head­liner and is be­ing joined by the As­tra GTC and VXR three-door hatch­backs, as well as the VXR ver­sion of the mid-sized In­signia.

“These three ve­hi­cles will be niche ve­hi­cles, and small-vol­ume mod­els for Holden, but they… are a per­fect match for Holden cus­tomers,” says Ja­coby.

“I think it was a good de­ci­sion to pull back from Opel and re-start from Holden… with prod­ucts from Europe.

“First of all, these are high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cles. They are fit­ting per­fectly into the Aus­tralian mar­ket. They like high­per­for­mance cars.” It’s the start, but it’s not the fin­ish. “It’s the first wave of ex­cit­ing new prod­ucts. I prom­ise you that great things will come,” says Ja­coby.

He is forced to bat away pre­dictable ques­tions about Holden’s shut­down plan for the Com­modore, its lo­cal work­force and even the Federal budget im­pact, but stays pos­i­tive and on-mes­sage in the first truly up­beat event for Holden in some time.

“We be­lieve Holden has great op­por­tu­ni­ties if we make the right de­ci­sions. I be­lieve over the next cou­ple of years we will main­tain the share of lo­cally pro­duced ve­hi­cles.

“We ex­pect 2900 people will main­tain their jobs un­til 2017,” Ja­coby says.

“I think is the right ap­proach in Aus­tralia to count on Holden. Holden is the GM brand.”

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