Gen­eral Mo­tors muster

Holden is search­ing the globe in its drive to be num­ber one by 2020

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MOTORING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­ Twit­ter: @JoshuaDowl­ing

THE new Holden boss has boldly claimed the com­pany will be Aus­tralia’s top-sell­ing car brand by the year 2020, just three years af­ter shut­ting its fac­to­ries.

Holden hasn’t been No.1 for 11 years, has just posted a 20year low, and sells a lit­tle more than half the num­ber of cars as mar­ket leader Toy­ota.

Yet Holden boss Gerry Dorizas has set his sights high barely five weeks into the new job. It seems like a tall or­der when the claims are judged against Holden’s cur­rent model line-up.

Be­hind the scenes the com­pany is search­ing the globe to bol­ster its show­rooms once Holden doesn’t have a car fac­tory to pro­tect be­yond 2017. That means Holden’s go­ing through the en­tire Gen­eral Mo­tors cat­a­logue to fill ev­ery pos­si­ble niche to win back buy­ers.

Some of the cars listed here may seem fan­ci­ful based on Holden’s re­cent his­tory. But make no mis­take, any­thing is pos­si­ble in Holden’s new era.

As with all car mak­ers, Holden re­fuses to dis­cuss its fu­ture model plans. This list has been com­piled with in­side knowl­edge and a re­view of how Holden has done busi­ness in hap­pier times, such as the late 1990s and early 2000s when Euro­pean and US mod­els helped drive it to Num­ber One.

Here are the 10 cars that could power Holden back to the top.


You read it here first: Holden ex­ec­u­tives told deal­ers in a se­cret meet­ing late last year it’s hope­ful of get­ting the next gen­er­a­tion Chevro­let Camaro in show­rooms by 2018.

A right-hand-drive ver­sion of the cur­rent Chevro­let Camaro was un­der de­vel­op­ment when it was axed in 2009, in the wake of the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis. Now that Ford has con­firmed the Mus­tang is com­ing to Aus­tralia (in late 2015), Holden is work­ing hard to get the Camaro to meet its ri­val head-on.

And the iconic Corvette? For­mer Gen­eral Mo­tors CEO, Dan Ak­er­son, told Cars­guide last year a RHD ver­sion was com­ing, only to be cor­rected by his se­cond-in-com­mand Tim Lee less than 24 hours later. Since then, for­mer Holden boss Mark Reuss (now a GM highup) says he wants right-hand­drive ver­sions of all Chevro­let ve­hi­cles in the fu­ture.


In the same meet­ing Holden deal­ers were told about the Camaro, they also heard about the Opel Cas­cada con­vert­ible com­ing to Holden show­rooms by year’s end.

Cas­cada is Span­ish for rain or wa­ter­fall, un­usual for a con­vert­ible given they’re about sun­shine, ex­cept when they leak. The car was to be in­tro­duced as an Opel be­fore GM pulled the Ger­man brand from sale lo­cally last year less than a year af­ter it launched.

All Holden needs to do is fit its own badges, get cars to deal­ers and start print­ing brochures. The Cas­cada is the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the As­tra con­vert­ible, which Holden sold across two gen­er­a­tions from 2001 to 2010. Holden is yet to de­cide whether the con­vert­ible will wear the Cas­cada badge or if Holden will use the As­tra name for the con­vert­ible.

Deal­ers have told Cars­guide they would pre­fer the As­tra badge be­cause of its recog­ni­tion, but Holden ex­ec­u­tives have been re­fer­ring to the car by its Opel name in pre­lim­i­nary meet­ings.


The As­tra is com­ing back, it’s just a mat­ter of when. At the mo­ment, Holden doesn’t want to dent sales of the lo­cally-made Cruze, but the As­tra is ready.

Deal­ers had to clear the un­sold As­tra stock once the Opel was with­drawn, so the net­work has al­ready han­dled the new model. The three-door and five-door hatch ver­sions of the As­tra are likely starters, but the sedan will prob­a­bly be left be­hind, leav­ing the next gen­er­a­tion Cruze sedan to fill the void.


Holden will im­port the next gen­er­a­tion Cruze sedan once the Ade­laide-built model ceases pro­duc­tion. Cheaper than the As­tra sedan, it will give Holden a strate­gic price step through the small-car range.

The Cruze will likely be the price-leader at close to $20,000 while the As­tra hatch will be priced closer to fel­low Euro­pean, the Volkswagen Golf, at about $23,000. Gen­eral Mo­tors is yet to com­mit to a new ver­sion of the Cruze wagon.


The Trax mini SUV is welle­quipped and sharply priced but hasn’t proved pop­u­lar. Not ev­ery­one is a fan of its cutesy Dumbo Ele­phant looks. But a fix is a phone call away.

The Trax’s twin, Opel’s Mokka, was due to go on sale be­fore the brand’s with­drawal. The Mokka has a more Euro­pean de­sign in­side and out even though it comes from the same South Korean fac­tory as the Trax. Holden need only fit Trax badges to the bet­ter­look­ing model for a sales boost.


As one of the best-priced and roomi­est cars in its class, the cur­rent Ba­rina is an­other Holden that de­serves to be sell­ing bet­ter. But it is heavy and thirsty com­pared to the class lead­ers.

While the at­trac­tively de­signed in­te­rior looks good in brochures, the plas­tics are hard to the touch and feel cheap once you’re be­hind the wheel. The next model will likely con­tinue to come from South Korea to keep prices lower than would be pos­si­ble with an Opel-sourced Corsa.

Bet­ter plas­tics will im­prove the in­te­rior’s ap­peal, while a more ef­fi­cient en­gine and a lighter body will im­prove fuel econ­omy, giv­ing the next Ba­rina a bet­ter chance in the cut­throat city-car class.


A new Cap­tiva SUV can’t come soon enough. Most cars have a

model cy­cle of five-to-six years. The Cap­tiva is en­ter­ing its ninth year and a new-from-the­ground-up model is still about two years away.

The cur­rent Cap­tiva is sell­ing well be­cause it’s the cheap­est ticket into a sev­enseat full-size SUV. But the new model will have to step up to newer com­pe­ti­tion, es­pe­cially if it loses its cur­rent $10,000 price ad­van­tage. The other key to the Cap­tiva’s suc­cess is the twom­odel strategy: a slightly smaller five-seater and a slightly big­ger seven-seater.

Holden would like to con­tinue with two mod­els given the SUV mar­ket is still boom­ing, but GM is likely to con­sol­i­date to one model glob­ally.

The Cap­tiva is crit­i­cal to Holden’s 2020 No.1 tar­get: it ac­counts for al­most one-third of sales and is cur­rently the big­gest-sell­ing model be­hind the Com­modore and the Cruze.


Holden has scrapped plans to share the next gen­er­a­tion, front-wheel-drive Com­modore with a Chi­nese Buick. Now that the Com­modore (or what­ever Holden chooses to call its next large sedan) is no longer go­ing to be built lo­cally, Holden has the lux­ury of choos­ing be­tween the Buick, Chevro­let or Opel ver­sions of the same car.

Ex­pect four-cylin­der and V6 power for the front-drive sedan, but there will no longer be a Com­modore V8, wagon or ute. The Camaro is ex­pected to fill the V8 void, while Com­modore wagon cus­tomers will ei­ther down­size to a Cruze or step up to a Cap­tiva SUV. Com­modore ute buy­ers will have to learn to love the Colorado.


The Holden Colorado is trav­el­ling OK, but it’s still not sell­ing as well as the Toy­ota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Nis­san Navara and Mit­subishi Tri­ton. The Colorado does not drive as well as its peers and the cabin isn’t as user-friendly or as up­mar­ket.

Nor does it look like a tough truck. Mak­ing it drive bet­ter will take some chas­sis tun­ing, but mak­ing it look tougher is not as hard as it sounds. GM re­designed the nose for the Chevro­let ver­sion of the 2015 Colorado, to make it look like a full-size pick-up. And guess what? The parts clip straight on to the Holden Colorado.


Holden has been try­ing to get right-hand-drive ver­sions of Gen­eral Mo­tors’ full-size SUVs and pick-ups from the US for more than a decade. Since, in fact, the Chevro­let Sub­ur­ban was dis­con­tin­ued af­ter be­ing sold here from 1998 to 2001.

Back then, when the dol­lar was weaker, the Sub­ur­ban sold for be­tween $64,000 and $87,000.

At today’s ex­change rates, the prices for the Tahoe SUV and Sil­ver­ado pick-up would likely be be­tween $50,000 and $75,000 — smack in the mid­dle of Toy­ota Prado and Toy­ota Land Cruiser ter­ri­tory, which last year ac­counted for more than 10 per cent of Toy­ota’s sales.

GM is yet to con­firm RHD ver­sions of its full-size pick-ups and SUVs, but again Reuss tells us he wants RHD ver­sions of all fu­ture mod­els. If they be­came avail­able, Holden would grab them with both hands.

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