By today at least, Holden may not be a name that's widely known in the Philippines, but it is an automotive institution over in Australia and New Zealand. For over 160 years, Holden has grown from being a saddle manufacturer to car manufacturer. But that will soon come to an end as the Australian automaker will be ceasing operations at the end of this year, December 31, 2020.
As big of a brand Holden is, General Motors, its parent company, said they they will be axing the brand due to several reasons. First, Holden has been hemorrhaging money for the past couple of years and have been finding difficulty in making profits. Secondly, Holden sales have dwindled and last year saw their lowest sales figure yet. Further limiting Holden is the fact that they have not been in vehicle export in decades aside from a few models from them rebadged as Chevrolets. Third, General Motors is pulling out of the right-hand drive market completely, and that also includes the Australian marque.
General Motors said that producing right-hand drive models has become unprofitable for them given how small their sales and markets have been in those markets. That's because there are additional costs and development times in making a vehicle that's compatible for both left-hand drive and right-hand drive countries.
With that, Holden's Melbourne design studio will be shuttered, along with their test track in Lang Lang, located in the outskirts of Melbourne. 600 to 800 Holden employees will lose their jobs and given redundancies. However, 200 will be kept around to honor services and warranty commitments to recent Holden owners for up to 10 years.
Holden has been in the business in automotive manufacturing since 1948 but their history dates further than that. Established in 1856, Holden started out as a saddle manufacturer but then went into building bodies for General Motors in the 1920's. Fast forward to the 1940's and Holden was now in manufacturing, building the first Australian car in 1948, simply dubbed the 48-215.
In the following years, Holden began expanding their product range and even started exporting outside of Australia, the Philippines included. One of the Holdens made available here was the Torana. It was a mid-sized sedan that was set to compete with the likes of the Toyota Corona and Nissan/Datsun Bluebird. Another car they offered here was the Holden Kingswood, a full-sized sedan.
From the late 1960's all the way to the present, Most Holden models have been derived (or rebadged) from other General Motors products, namely Opel. For instance, the first-generation Holden Gemini (also known as the Isuzu Gemini) was based on the Opel Kadett of that era. In later years, they would also offer rebadged Daewoos as well. They had a brief relationship with Toyota in the late 80's to early 90's with the Holden Apollo (rebadged second and third-generation Camry), Holden Nova (rebadged Sprinter/Corolla hatchback), and Toyota Lexcen (rebadged second-generation Holden Commodore).
Their full-sized Commodore has become an icon in Australia, but the shift in consumer preferences saw big sedans fall out of favor as crossovers blossomed. Holden was then left with another hurdle when GM sold Opel (and Vauxhall) to PSA Peugeot Citroen, meaning if they were to build a new car, they can't source it from Opel anymore, which is their primary source for new models. With the Opel-Peugeot deal leaving Holden orphaned and with dwindling sales, GM pulled the plug on the brand, sealing its fate.