14 Muscle News
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.”