Holden, formally known as
General Motors Holden, is an Australian
automobile importer and a former automobile manufacturer with its
headquarters in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The company was founded in
1856 as a saddlery manufacturer in South Australia. In 1908 it moved
into the automotive field, becoming a subsidiary of the United
General Motors (GM) in 1931, when the company was renamed
General Motors-Holden's Ltd. It was renamed
Holden Ltd in 1998, and
Holden in 2005.
Holden sells the remaining stock of the locally produced range of
Commodore vehicles, and imported GM models.
Holden has offered badge
engineered models in sharing arrangements with Chevrolet, Isuzu,
Nissan, Opel, Suzuki,
Toyota and Vauxhall Motors. In 2013 the vehicle
lineup consisted of models from GM Korea, GM Thailand, GM in the US,
and self-developed Commodore, Caprice, and Ute.
distributed the European
Opel brand in
Australia in 2012 until the
Opel brand's Australian demise in mid-2013.
From 1994 to 2017, all Australian-built
Holden vehicles were
manufactured in Elizabeth, South Australia, and engines were produced
Fishermans Bend plant in Melbourne. Historically, production or
assembly plants were operated in all mainland states of Australia. The
consolidation of car production at Elizabeth was completed in 1988,
but some assembly operations continued at
Dandenong until 1994.
General Motors assembly plants were operated in New Zealand from 1926
until 1990 by
General Motors New Zealand Limited in an earlier and
quite separate operation from
Holden in Australia. Although Holden's
involvement in exports has fluctuated since the 1950s, the declining
sales of large cars in
Australia led the company to look to
international markets to increase profitability. From 2010 Holden
incurred losses due to the strong Australian dollar, and reductions of
government grants and subsidies. This led to the announcement on 11
December 2013 that
Holden would cease vehicle and engine production by
the end of 2017. However, the company will continue to have a large
and ongoing presence in
Australia importing and selling cars as
national sales company.
Holden will retain their design centre, but
with reduced staffing.
On 20 October 2017, the end of the era for the Australian
manufacturing industry came with the closure of the vehicle plant in
Elizabeth, South Australia. The brand will continue as an importer of
1.1 Early history
2 Corporate affairs and identity
5 See also
7 External links
Holden and Frost premises, Grenfell Street, Adelaide
James Alexander Holden
James Alexander Holden emigrated to South
Walsall, England and in 1856 established J.A.
Holden & Co, a
saddlery business in Adelaide. In 1879 J A Holden’s eldest son
Henry James (HJ) Holden, became a partner and effectively managed the
company. In 1885, German-born
H. A. Frost
H. A. Frost joined the business as a
junior partner and J.A.
Holden & Co became
Holden & Frost
Ltd. Edward Holden, James' grandson, joined the firm in 1905 with
an interest in automobiles. From there, the firm evolved
through various partnerships and, in 1908,
Holden & Frost moved
into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. The company
began re-body older chassis using motor bodies produced by F T Hack
and Co from 1914.
Holden & Frost mounted the body, painted and
trimmed it. The company began to produce complete motorcycle
sidecar bodies after 1913. After 1917, wartime trade restrictions
led the company to start full-scale production of vehicle body shells.
Holden founded a new company in late 1917, and registered
Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) on 25th February 1919
specialising in car bodies and using the former F T Hack & Co
facility at 400 King William Street in
Adelaide before erecting a
large 4 story factory on the site.
Holden Body badge on a 1928
By 1923, HMBB were producing 12,000 units per year. During
this time, HMBB assembled bodies for
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company of Australia
Geelong plant was completed. From 1924, HMBB became the
exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, with
manufacturing taking place at the new Woodville plant. These
bodies were made to suit a number of chassis imported from
manufacturers such as
Chevrolet and Dodge. In 1926 General Motors
(Australia) was established with assembly plants at Newstead,
Queensland; Marrickville, New South Wales; City Road, Melbourne;
Birkenhead, South Australia; and Cottesloe, Western Australia
using bodies produced by
Holden Motor Body Builders and imported
complete knock down (CKD) chassis. In 1930 alone, the still
independent Woodville plant built bodies for Austin, Chrysler, DeSoto,
Morris, Hillman, Humber,
Willys-Overland as well GM
cars. The last of this line of business was the assembly of Hillman
Minx sedans in 1948. The
Great Depression led to a substantial
downturn in production by Holden, from 34,000 units annually in
1930 to just 1,651 units one year later. In 1931 General
Holden Motor Body Builders and merged it with General
Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd
(GM-H). Throughout the 1920s
Holden also supplied tramcars to the
Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board, of which several examples
have been preserved in both
Australia and New Zealand.
Holden 50-2106 utility launched in 1951, three years after the
Holden's second full-scale car factory, located in Fishermans Bend
(Port Melbourne), was completed in 1936, with construction beginning
in 1939 on a new plant in Pagewood, New South Wales. However,
World War II
World War II delayed car production with efforts shifted to the
construction of vehicle bodies, field guns, aircraft and engines.
Before the war ended, the Australian Government took steps to
encourage an Australian automotive industry. Both GM and Ford
provided studies to the Australian Government outlining the production
of the first Australian-designed car. Ford's proposal was the
government's first choice, but required substantial financial
assistance. GM's study was ultimately chosen because of its low level
of government intervention. After the war,
Holden returned to
producing vehicle bodies, this time for Buick, Chevrolet,
Oldsmobile Ace was also produced from 1946 to
Holden continued to pursue the goal of producing an
Australian car. This involved compromise with GM, as Holden's managing
director, Laurence Hartnett, favoured development of a local design,
while GM preferred to see an American design as the basis for
"Australia's Own Car". In the end, the design was based on a
previously rejected post-war
Chevrolet proposal. The
launched in 1948, creating long waiting lists extending through 1949
and beyond. The name "Holden" was chosen in honour of Sir
Edward Holden, the company's first chairman and grandson of J.A.
Holden. Other names considered were "GeM", "Austral", "Melba",
"Woomerah", "Boomerang", "Emu" and "Canbra", a phonetic spelling of
Canberra. Although officially designated "48-215", the car was
marketed simply as the "Holden". The unofficial usage of the name
"FX" originated within Holden, referring to the updated suspension on
the 48-215 of 1953.
Holden's FC series was the first to be tested at the Lang Lang proving
During the 1950s,
Holden dominated the Australian car market. GM
invested heavily in production capacity, which allowed the company to
meet increased post-war demand for motor cars. Less expensive
four-cylinder cars did not offer Holden's ability to deal with rugged
rural areas. 48-215 sedans were produced in parallel with the
50-2106 coupé utility from 1951; the latter was known colloquially as
the "ute" and became ubiquitous in Australian rural areas as the
workhorse of choice. Production of both the utility and sedan
continued with minor changes until 1953, when they were replaced by
the facelifted FJ model, introducing a third panel van body style.
The FJ was the first major change to the
Holden since its 1948
introduction. Over time it gained iconic status and remains one of
Australia's most recognisable automotive symbols. A new
horizontally slatted grille dominated the front-end of the FJ, which
received various other trim and minor mechanical revisions. In
Holden began exporting the FJ to New Zealand. Although little
changed from the 48-215, marketing campaigns and price cuts kept FJ
sales steady until a completely redesigned model was launched. At
Australian International Motor Show
Australian International Motor Show in Sydney,
homage to the FJ with the Efijy concept car.
Holden's next model, the FE, launched in 1956; offered in a new
station wagon body style dubbed "Station Sedan" in the company's sales
literature. In the same year
Holden commenced exports to Malaya,
Thailand and North Borneo. Strong sales continued in Australia,
Holden achieved a market share of more than 50 percent in
1958 with the revised FC model. This was the first
Holden to be
tested on the new
Holden Proving Ground based in Lang Lang,
Victoria. 1957 saw Holden's export markets grow to 17 countries,
with new additions including Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji,
Sudan, the East Africa region and South Africa. Indonesian market
cars were assembled locally by P.T. Udatin. The opening of the
Dandenong, Victoria, production facility in 1956 brought further jobs;
Holden employed 19,000 workers country-wide. In 1959
complete knock down assembly began in South Africa and Indonesia.
Holden introduced its third major new model, the FB. The
car's style was inspired by 1950s Chevrolets, with tailfins and a
wrap-around windshield with "dog leg" A-pillars. By the time it was
introduced, many considered the appearance dated. Much of the motoring
industry at the time noted that the adopted style did not translate
well to the more compact Holden. The FB became the first Holden
that was adapted for left-hand-drive markets, enhancing its export
potential, and as such was exported to New Caledonia, New Hebrides,
the Philippines, and Hawaii.
The EK of 1961 was Holden's response to the Ford Falcon, with the
availability of automatic transmission.
In 1960, Ford unveiled the new Falcon in Australia, only months after
its introduction in the United States. To Holden's advantage, the
Falcon was not durable, particularly in the front suspension, making
it ill-suited for Australian conditions. In response to the
Holden introduced the facelifted EK series in 1961; the new
model featured two-tone paintwork and optional
transmission. A restyled EJ series came in 1962, debuting the new
luxury oriented Premier model. The EH update came a year later
bringing the new Red motor, providing better performance than the
previous Grey motor. The HD series of 1965 saw the introduction of
Powerglide automatic transmission. At the same time, an "X2"
performance option with a more powerful version of the 179-cubic-inch
(2.9 L) six-cylinder engine was made available. In 1966, the
HR was introduced, including changes in the form of new front and rear
styling and higher-capacity engines. More significantly, the HR fitted
standard front seat belts;
Holden thus became the first Australian
automaker to provide the safety device as standard equipment across
all models. This coincided with the completion of the production
plant in Acacia Ridge, Queensland. By 1963,
Holden was exporting
cars to Africa, the Middle East, South-East Asia, the Pacific Islands,
and the Caribbean.
Holden began assembling the compact HA series Vauxhall Viva in 1964.
This was superseded by the
Holden Torana in 1967, a development of the
Viva ending Vauxhall production in Australia.
Holden offered the
LC, a Torana with new styling, in 1969 with the availability of
Holden's six-cylinder engine. In the development days, the
six-cylinder Torana was reserved for motor racing, but research had
shown that there was a business case for such a model. The LC
Torana was the first application of Holden's new three-speed Tri-Matic
automatic transmission. This was the result of Holden's
A$16.5 million transformation of the Woodville, South Australia
factory for its production.
Holden Monaro coupé, introduced in 1968 and based on
the mainstream Kingswood, has since gained a cult following.
Holden's association with the manufacture of Chevrolets and Pontiacs
ended in 1968, coinciding with the year of Holden's next major new
model, the HK . This included Holden's first V8 engine, a
Chevrolet engine imported from Canada. Models based on the HK
series included an extended-length prestige model, the Brougham, and a
two-door coupé, the Monaro. The mainstream
Holden Special was
rebranded the Kingswood, and the basic fleet model, the Standard,
became the Belmont. On 3 March 1969 Alexander Rhea, managing
director of General Motors-Holden's at the time, was joined by press
photographers and the Federal Minister of Shipping and Transport, Ian
Sinclair as the two men drove the two millionth Holden, an HK
Brougham off the production line. This came just over half a
decade since the one millionth car, an EJ Premier sedan rolled off the
Dandenong line on 25 October 1962. Following the
fitted to the HK, the first Australian-designed and mass-produced V8,
V8 engine debuted in the Hurricane concept of 1969 before
fitment to facelifted HT model. This was available in two capacities:
253 cubic inches (4.1 L) and 308 cubic inches (5.0 L).
Late in HT production, use of the new Tri-Matic automatic
transmission, first seen in the LC Torana was phased in as Powerglide
stock was exhausted, but Holden's official line was that the HG of
1971 was the first full-size
Holden to receive it.
Holden's HX (pictured), was an evolution of the record-selling HQ,
with more than 480,000 units shifted throughout the car's
Despite the arrival of serious competitors—namely, the Ford Falcon,
Chrysler Valiant, and Japanese cars—in the 1960s, Holden's locally
produced large six- and eight-cylinder cars remained Australia's
top-selling vehicles. Sales were boosted by exporting the Kingswood
sedan, station wagon, and utility body styles to Indonesia, Trinidad
and Tobago, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa in complete
knock down form.
Holden launched the new HQ series in 1971. At this time, the
company was producing all of its passenger cars in Australia, and
every model was of Australian design; however, by the end of the
Holden was producing cars based on overseas designs. The HQ
was thoroughly re-engineered, featuring a perimeter frame and
semi-monocoque (unibody) construction. Other firsts included an
all-coil suspension and an extended wheelbase for station wagons,
while the utilities and panel vans retained the traditional coil/leaf
suspension configuration. The series included the new prestige
Statesman brand, which also had a longer wheelbase, replacing the
Brougham. The Statesman remains noteworthy because it was not
marketed as a "Holden", but rather a "Statesman".
The UC, Holden's final iteration of the Torana was replaced by an
interim four-cylinder version of the Commodore until Camira was
launched in 1982.
The HQ framework led to a new generation of two-door Monaros, and,
despite the introduction of the similar sized competitors, the HQ
range became the top-selling
Holden of all time, with
485,650 units sold in three years. 14,558 units were
exported and 72,290 CKD kits were constructed. The HQ series
was facelifted in 1974 with the introduction of the HJ, heralding new
front panel styling and a revised rear fascia. This new bodywork
was to remain, albeit with minor upgrades through the HX and HZ
series. Detuned engines adhering to government emission standards
were brought in with the HX series, whilst the HZ brought considerably
improved road handling and comfort with the introduction of "Radial
Tuned Suspension" (RTS). As a result of GM's toying with the
Wankel rotary engine, as used by
Mazda of Japan, an export agreement
was initiated in 1975. This involved
Holden exporting with
powertrains, HJ, and later, HX series Premiers as the
Mazda then fitted these cars with the 13B rotary engine and
three-speed automatic transmission. Production ended in 1977, after
just 840 units sold.
During the 1970s,
Holden ran an advertising jingle "Football, Meat
Pies, Kangaroos and
Holden cars", based on the "Baseball, Hot Dogs,
Apple Pies and Chevrolet" jingle used by
Chevrolet in the United
States. Also, development of the Torana continued in with the
larger mid-sized LH series released in 1974, offered only as a
four-door sedan. The LH Torana was one of the few cars worldwide
engineered to accommodate four-, six-and eight-cylinder engines.
This trend continued until
Holden introduced the Sunbird in 1976;
essentially the four-cylinder Torana with a new name. Designated
LX, both the Sunbird and Torana introduced a three-door hatchback
variant. A final UC update appeared in 1978. During its
production run, the Torana achieved legendary racing success in
Australia, achieving victories at the
Mount Panorama Circuit
Mount Panorama Circuit in
Bathurst, New South Wales.
The Commodore premiering in 1978 followed the success of its Kingswood
forebear, becoming Holden's bestselling vehicle to date.
Holden introduced the compact Gemini, the Australian version
of the "T-car", based on the
Opel Kadett C. The Gemini was an overseas
design developed jointly with Isuzu, GM's Japanese affiliate; and was
powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Fast becoming a
popular car, the Gemini rapidly attained sales leadership in its
class, and the nameplate lived on until 1987.
Holden's most popular car to date, the Commodore, was introduced in
1978 as the VB. The new family car was loosely based on the Opel
Rekord E body shell, but with the front from the
Opel Senator grafted
to accommodate the larger
Holden six-cylinder and V8 engines.
Initially, the Commodore maintained Holden's sales leadership in
Australia. However, some of the compromises resulting from the
adoption of a design intended for another market hampered the car's
acceptance. In particular, it was narrower than its predecessor and
its Falcon rival, making it less comfortable for three rear-seat
passengers. With the abandonment of left-hand drive markets,
Holden exported almost 100,000 Commodores to markets such as New
Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Holden discontinued the Torana in 1979 and the Sunbird in 1980. After
the 1978 introduction of the Commodore, the Torana became the
"in-between" car, surrounded by the smaller and more economical Gemini
and the larger, more sophisticated Commodore. The closest successor to
the Torana was the Camira, released in 1982 as Australia's version of
GM's medium-sized "J-car".
After a good start, sales of the Camira, Holden's version of the
global "J-car" platform slumped significantly. This placed a huge
financial burden on the Australian subsidiary, which was already
operating at a loss at this time.
The 1980s were challenging for
Holden and the Australian automotive
The Australian Government tried to revive the industry with
the Button car plan, which encouraged car makers to focus on producing
fewer models at higher, more economical volumes, and to export
cars. The decade opened with the shut-down of the Pagewood, New
South Wales production plant and introduction of the light commercial
Rodeo, sourced from
Isuzu in Japan. The Rodeo was available in
both two- and four-wheel drive chassis cab models with a choice of
petrol and diesel powerplants. The range was updated in 1988 with
the TF series, based on the
Isuzu TF. Other cars sourced from
Isuzu during the 1980s were the four-wheel drive Jackaroo (1981), the
Shuttle (1982) van and the Piazza (1986) three-door sports
hatchback. The second generation
Holden Gemini from 1985 was also
based on an
Isuzu design, although, its manufacture was undertaken in
While GM Australia's commercial vehicle range had originally been
mostly based on
Bedford products, these had gradually been replaced by
Isuzu products. This process began in the 1970s and by 1982 Holden's
commercial vehicle arm no longer offered any
Holden WB commercial vehicles and the
Statesman WB limousines
were introduced in 1980. However, the designs, based on the HQ and
updated HJ, HX and HZ models from the 1970s were less competitive than
similar models in Ford's lineup. Thus,
Holden abandoned those vehicle
classes altogether in 1984. Sales of the Commodore also fell, with
the effects of the
1979 energy crisis
1979 energy crisis lessening, and for the first
time the Commodore lost ground to the Ford Falcon. Sales in other
segments also suffered when competition from Ford intensified, and
other Australian manufacturers: Mitsubishi,
market share. When released in 1982, the Camira initially
generated good sales, which later declined because buyers considered
the 1.6-litre engine underpowered, and the car's build and ride
quality below-average. The Camira lasted just seven years, and
contributed to Holden's accumulated losses of over A$500 million
by the mid-1980s.
The second generation Commodore (VN Calais pictured) overcame the
previous generation's width problems.
Holden introduced the VK Commodore, with significant styling
changes from the previous VH. The Commodore was next updated in 1986
as the VL, which had new front and rear styling. Controversially,
the VL was powered by the 3.0-litre
Nissan RB30 six-cylinder engine
and had a Nissan-built, electronically controlled four-speed automatic
Holden even went to court in 1984 to stop local motoring
magazine Wheels from reporting on the matter. The engine change
was necessitated by the legal requirement that all new cars sold in
Australia after 1986 had to consume unleaded petrol. Because it
was unfeasible to convert the existing six-cylinder engine to run on
unleaded fuel, the
Nissan engine was chosen as the best engine
available. However, changing exchange rates doubled the cost of the
engine and transmission over the life of the VL. The decision to
opt for a Japanese-made transmission led to the closure of the
Australia assembly plant. Confident by the apparent
sign of turnaround, GM paid off Holden's mounted losses of
A$780 million on 19 December 1986. At GM headquarters'
Holden was then reorganised and recapitalised, separating the
engine and car manufacturing divisions in the process. This
involved the splitting of
Holden into Holden's Motor Company (HMC) and
Holden's Engine Company (HEC). For the most part, car bodies were
now manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia, with engines as
before, confined to the
Fishermans Bend plant in Port Melbourne,
Victoria. The engine manufacturing business was successful, building
four-cylinder Family II engines for use in cars built overseas.
The final phase of the Commodore's recovery strategy involved the 1988
VN, a significantly wider model powered by the American-designed,
Buick V6 engine.
Holden began to sell the subcompact
Suzuki Swift-based Barina in 1985.
The Barina was launched concurrently with the Suzuki-sourced Holden
Drover, followed by the Scurry later on in 1985. In the previous
Nissan Pulsar hatchbacks were rebadged as the
Holden Astra, as a
result of a deal with Nissan. This arrangement ceased in 1989
Holden entered a new alliance with Toyota, forming a new company:
United Australian Automobile Industries
United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI). UAAI resulted in
Holden selling rebadged versions of Toyota's Corolla and Camry, as the
Holden Nova and Apollo respectively, with
Toyota re-branding the
Commodore as the Lexcen.
The VS Statesman/Caprice of 1995, represented a mild facelift of the
VR, which in turn was an update of the 1990 VQ—Holden's
long-wheelbase version of the VN Commodore series.
The company changed throughout the 1990s, increasing its Australian
market share from 21 percent in 1991 to 28.2 percent in
1999. Besides manufacturing Australia's best selling car, which
was exported in significant numbers,
Holden continued to export many
locally produced engines to power cars made elsewhere. In this decade,
Holden adopted a strategy of importing cars it needed to offer a full
range of competitive vehicles. During 1998, General
Motors-Holden's Ltd name was shortened to "
On 26 April 1990, GM's New Zealand subsidiary
Holden New Zealand
announced that production at the assembly plant based in Trentham
would be phased out and vehicles would be imported duty-free—this
came after the 1984 closure of the
Petone assembly line due to low
output volumes. During the 1990s, Holden, other Australian
automakers and trade unions pressured the Australian Government to
halt the lowering of car import tariffs. By 1997, the federal
government had already cut tariffs to 22.5 percent, from
57.5 percent ten years earlier; by 2000, a plan was formulated to
reduce the tariffs to 15 percent.
Holden was critical, saying
that Australia's population was not large enough, and that the changes
could tarnish the local industry.
Commodore VT, introduced in 1997, marked the Commodore's global
Holden re-introduced its defunct Statesman title in 1990—this time
Holden marque, as the Statesman and Caprice. For 1991,
Holden updated the Statesman and Caprice with a range of improvements,
including the introduction of four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS);
although, a rear-wheel system had been standard on the Statesman
Caprice from March 1976. ABS was added to the short-wheelbase
Commodore range in 1992. Another returning variant was the
full-size utility, and on this occasion it was based on the
Commodore. The VN Commodore received a major facelift in 1993
with the VR—compared to the VN, approximately 80 percent of the
car model was new. Exterior changes resulted in a smoother overall
body and a "twin-kidney" grille—a Commodore styling trait that
remained until the 2002 VY model and, as of 2013, remains a
permanent staple on HSV variants.
Holden introduced the all-new VT Commodore in 1997, the outcome of a
A$600 million development programme that spanned more than five
years. The new model featured a rounded exterior body shell, improved
dynamics and many firsts for an Australian-built car. Also, a stronger
body structure increased crash safety. The locally produced
V6 engine powered the Commodore range, as did the
Holden V8 engine, and was replaced in 1999 by the 5.7-litre
Holden Astra continued Holden's trend of sourcing its
mid-size and smaller model lines from
Opel in Europe.
The UAAI badge-engineered cars first introduced in 1989 sold in far
fewer numbers than anticipated, but the
Holden Commodore, Toyota
Camry, and Corolla were all successful when sold under their original
nameplates. The first generation Nova and the donor Corolla were
produced at Holden's
Dandenong, Victoria facility until 1994.
UAAI was dissolved in 1996, and
Holden returned to selling only GM
Holden Astra and Vectra, both designed by
Germany, replaced the Toyota-sourced
Holden Nova and Apollo. This came
after the 1994 introduction of the
Opel Corsa replacing the already
Suzuki Swift as the source for the
Holden Barina. Sales
of the full-size
Holden Suburban SUV sourced from
in 1998—lasting until 2001. Also in 1998, local assembly of the
Vectra began at Elizabeth, South Australia. These cars were exported
to Japan and Southeast Asia with
Opel badges. However, the
Vectra did not achieve sufficient sales in
Australia to justify local
assembly, and reverted to being fully imported in 2000.
Holden's market surge from the 1990s reversed in the 2000s decade. In
Australia, Holden's market share dropped from 27.5 percent in
2000 to 15.2 percent in 2006. From March 2003, Holden
no longer held the number one sales position in Australia, losing
ground to Toyota.
This overall downturn affected Holden's profits; the company recorded
a combined gain of A$842.9 million between 2002 and 2004, and a
combined loss of A$290 million between 2005 and 2006.
Factors contributing to the loss included the development of an
all-new model, the strong Australian dollar and the cost of reducing
the workforce at the Elizabeth plant, including the loss of
1,400 jobs after the closure of the third-shift assembly line in
2005, after two years in operation.
Holden fared better in 2007,
posting an A$6 million loss. This was followed by an
A$70.2 million loss in the 2008, an A$210.6 million
loss in 2009, and a profit of A$112 million in 2010. On 18
May 2005, "
Holden Ltd" became "GM
Holden Ltd", coinciding with the
resettling to the new
Holden headquarters on 191 Salmon Street, Port
The Monaro coupé was resurrected in 2001 as a low-volume niche model.
Unanticipated overseas demand proved otherwise, with the Monaro
selling in the UK as a Vauxhall Monaro and throughout the United
States as the
Holden caused controversy in 2005 with their
Holden Employee Pricing
television advertisement, which ran between October and December 2005.
The campaign publicised, "for the first time ever, all Australians can
enjoy the financial benefit of
Holden Employee Pricing". However, this
did not include a discounted dealer delivery fee and savings on
factory fitted options and accessories that employees received. At the
same time, employees were given a further discount between 25 and
29 percent on selected models.
Holden revived the Monaro coupe in 2001. Based on the VT Commodore
architecture, the coupe attracted worldwide attention after being
shown as a concept car at Australian auto shows. The VT Commodore
received its first major update in 2002 with the VY series. A mildly
facelifted VZ model launched in 2004, introducing the High Feature
engine. This was built at the
Fishermans Bend facility completed
in 2003, with a maximum output of 900 engines per day. This has
reportedly added A$5.2 billion to the Australian economy; exports
account for about A$450 million alone. After the VZ, the
High Feature engine powered the all-new
Holden Commodore (VE). In
contrast to previous models, the VE no longer used an Opel-sourced
platform adapted both mechanically and in size, but was based on
GM Zeta platform
GM Zeta platform that was earmarked to become a "Global RWD
Architecture", until plans were cancelled due to the 2007/08 global
Holden updated the Commodore with the VE series in 2006, Holden's
first "clean-sheet" design since 1971.
Throughout the 1990s,
Opel had also been the source of many Holden
models. To increase profitability,
Holden looked to the South Korean
Daewoo brand for replacements after acquiring a 44.6 percent
stake—worth US$251 million—in the company in 2002 as a
representative of GM. This was increased to
50.9 percent in 2005, but when GM further increased its
stake to 70.1 percent around the time of its 2009 Chapter 11
reorganisation, Holden's interest was relinquished and transferred to
another (undisclosed) part of GM.
The commencement of the Holden-branded Daewoo models began with the
Holden Barina, which based on the Daewoo Kalos, replaced the Opel
Corsa as the source of the Barina. In the same year, the Viva,
based on the Daewoo Lacetti, replaced the entry-level
Classic, although the new-generation Astra introduced in 2004
continued on. The Captiva crossover SUV came next in 2006. After
discontinuing the Frontera and Jackaroo models in 2003,
only left with one all-wheel drive model: the Adventra, a
Commodore-based station wagon. The fourth model to be replaced
with a South Korean alternative was the Vectra by the mid-size Epica
in 2007. As a result of the split between GM and Isuzu, Holden
lost the rights to use the "Rodeo" nameplate. Consequently, the Holden
Rodeo was facelifted and relaunched as the Colorado in 2008.
Following Holden's successful application for a A$149 million
government grant to build a localised version of the
Australia from 2011,
Holden in 2009 announced that it would
initially import the small car unchanged from South Korea as the
Following the government grant announcement, Kevin Rudd, Australia's
Prime Minister at the time, stated that production would support 600
new jobs at the Elizabeth facility; however, this failed to take into
account Holden's previous announcement, whereby 600 jobs would be shed
when production of the
Family II engine
Family II engine ceased in late 2009. In
Holden sought a further A$265 million, in addition to
the A$275 million that was already committed by the governments
of Canberra, South
Australia and Victoria, to remain viable as a car
manufacturer in Australia. A source close to
Holden informed the
Australian news publication that the car company is losing money on
every vehicle that it produces and consequently initiated negotiations
to reduce employee wages by up to A$200 per week to cut costs,
following the announcement of 400 job cuts and an assembly line
reduction of 65 (400 to 335) cars per day. Between 2001 to 2012,
Holden received over A$150 million a year in subsidy from Australian
government. The subsidy from 2007 was more than Holden's capital
investment of the same period. From 2004,
Holden was only able to make
a profit in 2010 and 2011.
In March 2012,
Holden was given a $270 million lifeline by the
Gillard Federal Government, Weatherill and Baillieu ministries. In
Holden planned to inject over $1 billion into car
manufacturing in Australia. They estimated the new investment package
would return around $4 billion to the Australian economy and see
Holden continue making cars in
Australia until at least 2022.
Kim Carr confirmed on 10 July 2013 that talks had
been scheduled between the Australian government and Holden. On
13 August 2013, 1,700 employees at the Elizabeth plant in northern
Adelaide voted to accept a three-year wage freeze in order to decrease
the chances of the production line's closure in 2016. Holden's
ultimate survival, though, depended on continued negotiations with the
Federal Government—to secure funding for the period from 2016 to
2022—and the final decision of the global headquarters in Detroit,
Following an unsuccessful attempt to secure the extra funding required
from the new Liberal/National coalition government, on 10 December
General Motors announced that
Holden would cease engine and
vehicle manufacturing operations in
Australia by the end of 2017.
As a result, 2,900 jobs would be lost over four years. Beyond
2017 Holden's Australian presence will consist of: a national sales
company, a parts distribution centre and a global design studio.
In May 2014 GM reversed their decision to abandon the Lang Lang
Proving Ground and decided to keep it as part of their engineering
capability in Australia.
Holden again began selling a range of Opel-derived cars
comprising the Astra VXR and Insignia VXR (both based on the OPC
models sold by Vauxhall) and Cascada. Later that year,
announced plans to sell the European Astra and the Korean Cruze
alongside each other from 2017.
In December 2015, Belgian entrepreneur
Guido Dumarey commenced
negotiations to buy the Commodore manufacturing plant in South
Australia, with a view to continue producing a rebadged Zeta-based
premium range of rear and all-wheel drive vehicles for local and
export sales. The proposal was met with doubt in South
Australia, and it later came to nothing. On 20 October 2017
it ceased manufacturing vehicles in Australia.
Corporate affairs and identity
Holden logos from 1928 (left) and 1972 (right).
2007 sales and production
Light commercial vehicles
Sport utility vehicles
On 8 May 2015 Jeff Rolfs, Holden's CFO, became interim chairman and
Holden announced on 6 February 2015 that Mark
Bernhard would return to
Holden as chairman and managing director, the
first Australian to hold the post in 25 years. In 2010 vehicles
were sold countrywide through the
Holden Dealer Network (310
authorised stores and 12 service centres), which employed more than
Holden Special Vehicles
Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) was formed in partnership with
Tom Walkinshaw, who primarily manufactured modified, high-performance
Commodore variants. To further reinforce the brand, HSV
HSV Dealer Team
HSV Dealer Team into the V8 Supercar fold in 2005 under
the naming rights of Toll HSV Dealer Team.
The logo, or "
Holden lion and stone" as it is known, has played a
vital role in establishing Holden's identity. In 1928, Holden's Motor
Body Builders appointed
Rayner Hoff to design the emblem. The logo
refers to a prehistoric fable, in which observations of lions rolling
stones led to the invention of the wheel. With the 1948 launch of the
Holden revised its logo and commissioned another redesign in
1972 to better represent the company. The emblem was reworked
once more in 1994.
Sales in the Australian market between 1991 and 2006
Holden began to export vehicles in 1954, sending the FJ to New
Zealand. Exports to New Zealand have continued ever since, but to
broaden their export potential,
Holden began to cater their Commodore,
Monaro and Statesman/Caprice models for both right- and left-hand
drive markets. The Middle East is now Holden's largest export market,
with the Commodore sold as the
Chevrolet Lumina since 1998, and the
Statesman since 1999 as the
Chevrolet Caprice. Commodores are
also sold as the
Chevrolet Lumina in Brunei,
Fiji and South Africa,
and as the
Chevrolet Omega in Brazil.
Pontiac in North
America also imported Commodore sedans from 2008 through to 2009 as
the G8. The G8's cessation was a consequence of GM's Chapter 11
bankruptcy resulting in the demise of the
Sales of the Monaro began in 2003 to the Middle East as the Chevrolet
Lumina Coupe. Later on that year, a modified version of the Monaro
began selling in the United States (but not Canada) as the Pontiac
GTO, and under the Monaro name through Vauxhall dealerships in the
United Kingdom. This arrangement continued through to 2005 when the
car was discontinued. The long-wheelbase Statesman sales in the
Chinese market as the
Buick Royaum began in 2005, before being
replaced in 2007 by the Statesman-based
Buick Park Avenue.
Statesman/Caprice exports to South Korea also began in 2005. These
Korean models were sold as the Daewoo Statesman, and later as the
Daewoo Veritas from 2008. Holden's move into international
markets has been profitable; export revenue increased from
A$973 million in 1999 to just under $1.3 billion in
Since 2011 the WM Caprice has been exported to North America as the
Chevrolet Caprice PPV, a version of the Caprice built exclusively for
law enforcement in North America sold only to police. Since 2007,
the HSV-based Commodore has been exported to the United Kingdom as the
In 2013, it was announced that exports of the Commodore would resume
to North America in the form of the VF Commodore as the
sedan for the 2014 model year. The
Chevrolet SS Sedan was
imported to the United States (but again, not to Canada) again for
2015 with only minor changes, notably the addition of Magnetic Ride
Control suspension and a Tremec TR-6060 manual transmission. For
the 2016 model year, the SS sedan received a facelift based on the VF
Series II Commodore unveiled in September 2015. In
2017, production of Holden's last two American exports, the SS and the
Caprice PPV was discontinued.
Edward Holden (1917–1934)
Laurence Hartnett (1934–1946)
Harold E. Bettle (1946–1953)
Earl C. Daum (1953–1959)
Harlow C. Gage (1959–1962)
David L. Heglund (1962–1966)
Max C. Wilson (1966–1968)
Alexander D. Rhea (1968–1970)
A. C. "Bill" Gibbs (1970–1973)
Damon Martin (1973–1976)
Charles S. "Chuck" Chapman (1976–1987)
John G. Bagshaw (1987–1990)
William J. Hamel (1990–1997)
James R. Wiemels (1997–1999)
Peter Hanenberger (1999–2003)
Denny Mooney (2003–2007)
Chris Gubbey (2007–2008)
Mark Reuss (2008–2009)
Alan Batey (2009–2010)
Michael Devereux (2010–2014)
Gerry Dorizas (2014–2014)
Jeff Rolfs (Interim chairman and managing director) (2014–2015)
Mark Bernhard (2015–present)
Garth Tander driving a
Holden VF Commodore
Holden VF Commodore for the
Holden Racing Team
Holden has been involved with factory backed teams in Australian
touring car racing since 1968. The main factory-backed teams have been
Holden Dealer Team
Holden Dealer Team (1969–1987) and the
Holden Racing Team
(1990–2016). Since 2017,
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Triple Eight Race Engineering has been
Holden's factory team.
Holden has won the
Bathurst 1000 32 times,
more than any other manufacturer, and has won the Australian
Touring Car and
Supercars Championship title 20 times. Brad Jones
Racing, Charlie Schwerkolt Racing, Erebus Motorsport, Tekno Autosports
Walkinshaw Andretti United
Walkinshaw Andretti United also run
Holden Commodores in the
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The Death of Holden
List of Holden vehicles
List of Holden vehicles by nameplate
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Holden, a marque of General Motors, automobile timeline,
Barina Spark (MJ)
Astra Sedan (BL)
Monaro/Limited Edition (HQ/HJ/HX)
Belmont/Kingswood/Utility/One Tonner (HQ/HJ/HX/HZ/WB)
Ute/One Tonner/Crewman (VU/VY/VZ)
Panel van (FJ)
Panel van (FE/FC)
Panel van (FB/EK)
Panel van (EJ/EH)
Panel van (HD/HR)
Panel van (HQ/HJ/HX/HZ/WB)
Captiva MaXX/Captiva 5 (CG)
Captiva/Captiva 7 (CG)
Colorado 7/Trailblazer (RG)
† HQ–WB Statesmans not marketed under the "Holden" brand, but
rather the separate "Statesman" brand.
A subsidiary of General Motors
Divisions and subsidiaries
Holden Special Vehicles
Holden New Zealand
James Alexander Holden
James Alexander Holden (Founder)
Edward Holden (Founder)
Mike Devereux (Chairman)
Holden Dealer Team
Holden Racing Team
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Holden concept cars
HRT Maloo Ute
Automotive marques of General Motors
GM Diesel (1938-2000)
Yellow Coach (1925–1943)
Jie Fang (50%)
Fiat (2000–2005; up to 20%)
Isuzu Motors (c.1971–2006; up to 49%)
Subaru (c.1999–2006; 20%)
Suzuki (1985–2008; up to 15%)
PSA Peugeot Citroën
PSA Peugeot Citroën (2012-2013; up to 7%)
UzDaewoo (1992-2015; up to 50%)
SAIC-GM-Wuling (GM up to 44%)
Holden Special Vehicles
GM Certified Service
General Motors Canada
General Motors de Mexico
General Motors do Brasil
General Motors Egypt
General Motors India
Chevrolet Sales India Private Limited
General Motors South Africa
General Motors de Argentina
GM Korea (96%)
GM Uzbekistan (25%)
HRL Laboratories (50%)
Industries Mécaniques Maghrébines
Industries Mécaniques Maghrébines (20%)
Allison Engine Company
Allison Engine Company (1929–1995)
Allison Transmission (1929–2007)
Ally Financial (1919-2013)
Dayton-Wright Company (1919–1923)
Detroit Diesel (1938–1988)
Electro-Motive Diesel (1930–2004)
Electronic Data Systems (1984–1996)
Euclid Trucks (1953–1968)
Fleetwood Metal Body
General Motors Europe (1986–2010)
General Motors Diesel Division (1938–1987)
General Motors Diesel (1949–1969)
Ghandhara Industries (1953–1963)
GM Defense (1950–2003)
GMAC Real Estate
GMAC Real Estate (1998–2008)
GMC Heavy Trucks
Hughes Aircraft (1985–1997)
Hughes Electronics (1985–1997)
Hughes Network Systems (1987–2003)
HughesNet (DirecWay/DirecPC) (1996–2003)
National City Lines
New Venture Gear
New Venture Gear (36%, 1990–2002)
North American Aviation
North American Aviation (1933–1948)
Nuvell Financial Services
Nuvell Financial Services (1997–2008)
Remy Electric (1918–1994)
Rochester Products Division
United Australian Automobile Industries
United Australian Automobile Industries (1989–1996)
Winton Motor Carriage Company
Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company
Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company (1925–1943)
GM Technical Center
GM Proving Grounds
William C. Durant
William C. Durant (Founder)
Tim Solso (Chairman)
Mary Barra (CEO)
Dan Ammann (President)
General Motors Foundation
General Motors Motorama
Concept of the Corporation
Ignition switch recalls
Automotive industry in Australia
Economy of Australia
Transport in Australia
Borland Racing Developments
DRB Sports Cars
Elfin Sports Cars
Express Coach Builders
Minetti Sports Cars
Alan B Denning
Australian Motor Industries
British Motor Corporation (Australia)
Cheetah Racing Cars
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation
Duncan & Fraser
Ford Performance Vehicles
Holden Special Vehicles
Motor Body Specialists
Northcoast Bus & Coach
Parramatta-Ryde Bus Service
Pressed Metal Corporation
Pressed Metal Corporation
Pressed Metal Corporation South Australia
Queensland Coach Company
Stewart & Sons
Bob Jane T-Marts
Kinetic Suspension Technology
Genuine Parts Company Asia-Pacific)
Mitsubishi Motors Australia
Nissan Motors Australia
PSA Peugeot Citroen
PSA Peugeot Citroen Australia
Tata Motors Australia
Volkswagen Group Australia
Australian International Motor Show
Brisbane International Motor Show
Melbourne International Motor Show
Perth Auto Expo
Business in Australia
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Australian corporate law
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
Australian Securities & Investments Commission
Australian Takeovers Panel
Constitution of Australia, 1901 (Cth) corporations power
Economy of Australia
Australian Securities Exchange
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Australian Hotels Association
Australian Industry Group
Business Council of Australia
Minerals Council of Australia
National Farmers' Federation
S&P/ASX 50 companies
Ramsay Health Care
Sydney Airport Holdings
Other notable companies
Australian Radio Network
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
AXA Asia Pacific
News Corp Australia
Nine Entertainment/Nine Network
Seven West Media/Seven Network
Southern Cross Austereo
St George Bank
Star Entertainment Group
Adelaide Steamship Company
Camperdown Dairy International
Dick Smith Holdings
Great Southern Group
James Hardie asbestos controversy
Rodney Adler, Brad Cooper, Ray Williams and the collapse of HIH
Masters Home Improvement
Price fixing in the packaging industry
Rene Rivkin and the Offset Alpine fire
Jodee Rich and One.Tel
Christopher Skase and Qintex
Robert Champion de Crespigny
Janet Holmes à Court
Robert Holmes à Court