Holden Boss Steps Down After Just 18 Months

The head of Holden cars has stepped down after the company has posted its worst sales numbers in 71 years.

The boss of GM’s Australian arm Holden came of of retirement in early 2018 to try and turn around the brand’s sliding sales. Previously president of Toyota Australia, Dave Buttner stepped into Holden at a low point for the automaker, which had only just shuttered its last local manufacturing plant. Meaning that instead of producing its own vehicles, all were rebadged GM cars and trucks made elsewhere.

“Dave’s experience and professionalism have been significant assets for Holden since his appointment in 2018,” said GM International Operations VP Julian Blissett. “Not only has he led critical work, he has developed a highly credentialled leadership team, enabling an orderly transition.” In a statement, Holden said Buttner was leaving “for personal reasons.”

Holden was the top-selling brand down under as recently as 2002, but in the last few years has had trouble staying inside the top 10. Sales this year were down 26.6 percent, dropping to under 3,000 vehicles total for September 2019. The first time the brand had ever fallen under that sales mark.

Buttner will be replaced by Kristian Aquilina on an interim basis. Aquilina has been with Holden for more than 22 years, most recently serving as head of the company’s commercial operations.