GM Says Goodbye to Holden, Australia, NZ, and Thailand

General Motors is saying ‘catch you later’ to Australia and other international markets. The Holden brand is going away completely and the company is getting out of its three biggest remaining right-hand drive markets as the automaker works to strengthen the business and to move out of markets where it isn’t making the returns it wants.

The announcement yesterday said that GM would wind down the Holden brand, including sales, engineering, and design, and would retire it by 2021. Instead, GM says that its speciality vehicles will be the focus of that market. GM is also selling the company’s manufacturing plant in Thailand, another right-drive market, to Great Wall Motors, and will be removing Chevrolet from that market by the end of this year. Thailand, along with Australia and New Zealand, are GM’s biggest right-drive markets after it sold the UK’s Vauxhall to Groupe PSA in 2017.

Holden has been part of General Motors since 1931, and built cars in Australia for more than a century, though production ended in 2017 with the death of the RWD Commodore sedan.

“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of EVs and AVs.

Company President Mark Reuss said that “after considering many possible options – and putting aside our personal desires to accommodate the people and the market – we came to the conclusion that we could not prioritize further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry.” Reuss cited the investments needed to support “the highly fragmented right-hand-drive market” as part of the decision.

Low utilization and sales, as well as continued low forecasts for GM in Thailand, lead to the sale of the plant there, and GM said that without domestic production, it couldn’t continue Chevrolet sales.

GM said that it will honor all warranties and continue to provide servicing and parts in the three affected countries. They will also continue local operations to handle recall and safety-related issues.