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Holden “a portfolio that needs improvement”, admits exec who vows increased consistency in future line-up
www.caradvice.com.au

General Motors vice president of design Ed Welburn has admitted the current Holden line-up “needs improvement”, vowing to put consistency back into the future range with a plan that has “thrilled” Australian dealers.

Welburn recognises that in the future there needs to be consistency of design language across all Holden products so customers are not confused by a varied array of models.

Yet Holden is currently embarking on a plan to import several Opel models from Europe such as the Astra, Insignia and Cascada, which despite using a different design language to the current Australian- and South Korean-based range of Barina, Cruze, Malibu and Commodore will rub shoulders in local dealerships from later this year.

But Welburn stopped short of saying one group of products – either North American-based, South Korean-built products for Chevrolet, or European products for Opel – would win out over the other in the Holden range.

Instead in future General Motors is apparently aiming to narrow the vast gap in design language between the products from either side of the world.

“The portfolio should be so consistent that the customer doesn’t know if it came from Korea or Australia or Germany or Mexico,” tells Welburn, who added that currently the Holden line-up is a “portfolio that needs improvement”.


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Well we all know that in the future it wont come from Australia ;)

And yeah even blind freddy could tell that there is inconstancy in the lineup

Basically the inconsistency is that the Aussie built stuff is good and the imported stuff is crap
Spot on.
There's no confusion as to Holden's future regardless of what these idiot's in Detroit say, It will be a dead brand within only a few years. We know what we want, and it ain't made in Korea or Europe. And don't even think about badging some watered down POS as Commodore or Monaro, all that will do is increase the hate that is being displayed towards GM.
 

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When was the peak of large RWD car sales? How many units moved (between Ford and Holden)? Anyone have a graph of the Australian market to show the decline of these big sedans? I'm curious to see when they dropped off, and understand why. Is there truly still a big enough market for these cars? If people have moved on, what have the moved on to? Sounds like the current Commodore is a fantastic car, and the Falcon, if not perfect, still just had a refresh, but has tanked horribly. Have customers gotten spooked off of these cars since it was announced they were disappearing, or did they start decreasing because there just isn't as much interest in such a vehicle as years ago?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
When was the peak of large RWD car sales? How many units moved (between Ford and Holden)? Anyone have a graph of the Australian market to show the decline of these big sedans? I'm curious to see when they dropped off, and understand why. Is there truly still a big enough market for these cars? If people have moved on, what have the moved on to? Sounds like the current Commodore is a fantastic car, and the Falcon, if not perfect, still just had a refresh, but has tanked horribly. Have customers gotten spooked off of these cars since it was announced they were disappearing, or did they start decreasing because there just isn't as much interest in such a vehicle as years ago?
Lots of questions there.

I think peak sales for Commodore and Falcon was somewhere in the early 2000s (2002-2004). Each brand had a plethora of body styles of their bread and butter car. Falcon sales started to tank around 2006 with some poorly thought out updates not enough to keep interest. Fairlane died as did the Falcon wagon. The real 'death' of the locals was the expansion of the leasing options with work packages. Previously the locals were your only option but then you could take your pick of anything on the market. This allowed other brands to get some meaningful traction on the market. Sales = more sales = more sales as people get to know your brand.

I think that Mazda's rejuvenation was one of the major catalysts for the death of the locals. The original Mazda3 was a revelation in style and driving feel in a market and class that historically played it pretty conservatively. Large cars had probably crossed an invisible line of how big was really needed and people started sampling something smaller and the Mazda seemed to fit the bill at a critical time. Oh and then there was the fuel crisis. This really started the explosion of the small car which now leads the market.

The other nail in the coffin was the SUV fad (which Ford actually successfully navigated with the Territory). The appeal of a large sedan/wagon i.e. space could be found in something cooler where you could sit higher in a more commanding position.

The GFC and the effect of the parent companies really stunted the Aus divisions at a time they needed to invest in their product, so they where cursed with ageing product for longer than wanted. This led to further loss of interest which they haven't been able to claw back (and won't, obviously)

The FG X Falcon isn't a flop per se as the sales of the previous car were so low that even a 10% jump would be minimal. Interest has been renewed with the return of the XR8 but Ford have had to release a mild facelift on a fairly old car, which when compared to the Holden, exposes all its wrinkles.
 

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I got the impression over the last 5 years is GM Holden ignored the AUS market movement and did not double down on there SUV and compact cars like they needed to
the Cruze was expensive in comparison to imported competition + there truck and SUV line up was mediocre at best
and I would say every "portfolio" improvement in every market
 

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Thanks, from oz! Sounds like the smartest, most nimble and most creative manufacturer would have had their work cut out for them to keep a large mass-market sedan viable in Australia... and, well, ummm... well this IS GM we're talking about here...
But you have to remember: when VE was released, it was
1) late due to GM confiscating development funds causing sacking of most engineering and design staff working on it at the 11th hour.
2) half baked especially in interior, but also the base and large fleet models were underdone mechanically and for refinement (see point 1)
3) then it stultified on the market for nearly four years with no major changes
4) previous models, wagons and utes launched concurrently (at least after 2002) with VE, the wagon buyers waited 18 months, so a lot of off-lease wagons got replaced with other maker's SUVs - similarly, utes went from 20% of VU-VZ 2002-2006 to less than 10% in VE because Ute was AWOl for over two years. Concurrent with low import tariffs and Thai production, you just hand that market to things like the Hilux
5)in VE, Crewman (10% production) and One-Tonner (5%) and Adventra AWD wagon (maybe 5%, badly mismanaged on intro but lots of potential and growing) just disappeared.
6) in 2003-2004 Holden were working on tons of cars for GM North America. At least four (Coupe60, Zeta Impala, Zeta DT7 Cadillac, XT Denali) made it to rolling fibreglass prototype - that is probably about 2/3rds of the R&D budget for each - over $100M. That is the last stage before creating sheetmetal - the fibreglass shell is actualy scanned for the CAD images used for the tooling/presses. Then in 2005 - all cancelled. I suspect Holden saw not one cent of the R&D costs, which would have been in the hundreds of $mill approaching half a $bill.

IOW, the large RWD Aussie sedan is dying because GM (and Ford) decided to kill it, by starving it and mis-steps in planning like Ford's 1997 AU debacle. Toyota has never been able to beat it with the otherwise all-conquering Camry as it did in the US and other markets. Camry has never reliably acheived more than 50% Commodore sales. Toyota is exiting as a manufacturer, having had Detroit do what it could not: kill Falcon and Commodore.

Holden literally had no money to even change the taillights on the VE/WM so it ran from 2006-2013 with unaltered sheetmetal. You cannot do that - it's just too long for your market-leading, money making headliner.

What you saw with VF (and not even all of it) was meant to be released in 2010 as the 2nd gen G8 with improved interior, lightweighting alloy, better DI motors, etc etc etc. I would bet 'Omega' is actually Zeta II.

Holden had DI V8s in 2006 on test/development. I was told this by their senior engine guy. Why not use them? Pure dollars, and GM had decided Zeta was dead.

This is why it's galling to read about how 'unsustainable' Holden is and they 'had to' close it. If GM had left Holden's Middle-East exports alone and given the G8 to Chevrolet instead of landing it to a brand already cancelled the factory would be absolutely firing on all cylinders and be embarrassed for output. GM cored Holden out, then cancelled it's lifelines. Instead of saying, 'these guys know what they're doing, let's help them' they shut it down. 1988-2002 Holden grew to be the biggest maker/importer in Australia. After Lutz declared 'Monaro is the new GTO', GM Vice Presidents reappeared and Hannenberger was ousted, things went pearshaped. How do you turn around No. 1 to No. 4 and halve it's volume in ten years? I don't know, but GM did it.

In the meantime, Holden gave them a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park Camaro. It's never beat Mustang five years in a row on sales before the current gen. Plus, Mokka/Trax. Plus, things like the Avenir, the Bolt. Cruze hatch. Look under Alpha - you see Zeta-style SLA/multilink suspension.

GM made it unviable, not the conditions. Now the $Au is falling, it will be increasingly more viable especially as an exporter. Just now, GM is starting to realise - they have a real product problem in Australia, and they are killing the evolved solution to it, after putting a bolt through it's nose like a dancing bear.

Even now, it's probably profitable - you just can't justify another car for the plant with such low capacity.
 

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Holden “a portfolio that needs improvement”, admits exec who vows increased consistency in future line-up
www.caradvice.com.au

General Motors vice president of design Ed Welburn has admitted the current Holden line-up “needs improvement”, vowing to put consistency back into the future range with a plan that has “thrilled” Australian dealers.

Without giving too much away, could any dealers out there confirm if they are "thrilled" please?
 

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I sometimes wonder if Holden had followed a similar path to FoA and simply brownfield evolved V-Car into
a more cost effective and workable range for its own use where we would be today, an envelope that
covered mid sized to large vehicles, Torana- Commodore as well as a RWD "Captiva-Equinox" SWB -LWB
utility pair. Holden would have been much safer with those vehicles.

I know it's water under the bridge but FoA stayed off the radar for much of the time by working
within tight budgets and producing cars that with less interference could have kept them in the game.
I just see Holden as a company that could have done more for itself with genuine NA support,
not the fair weather friend stuff we saw in the early 2000s.

Moving on,
I don't see either Mondeo or Insignia bothering the scorers in Australia, both will be ignored
by the market as GM and Ford cede not only large car but mid size as well.
The lack of local connection with product is driving dealers nuts.

The contempt for Ford and Holden imports is exemplified by the markets preference for
Hyundai, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Nissan..... anything but the other two. total dismissal.
And things will get worse without a local manufacturing footprint.
 

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I sometimes wonder if Holden had followed a similar path to FoA and simply brownfield evolved V-Car into
a more cost effective and workable range for its own use where we would be today, an envelope that
covered mid sized to large vehicles, Torana- Commodore as well as a RWD "Captiva-Equinox" SWB -LWB
utility pair. Holden would have been much safer with those vehicles.

I know it's water under the bridge but FoA stayed off the radar for much of the time by working
within tight budgets and producing cars that with less interference could have kept them in the game.
I just see Holden as a company that could have done more for itself with genuine NA support,
not the fair weather friend stuff we saw in the early 2000s.
They did that. That's what Zeta was. V-car was too limited - Caprice/wagon was as big is it could go, and it could only handle 500hp. Holden reworked it so it supported 200% of the GVM and 300% of the hp the Opel version did. Plus, it was old-fashioned structure dated back to pre-autobot jigging and welding so it wasn't optimised. Zeta cost around 20% less per vehicle to build - just on simpler tooling and autoinsertions of things like the dash and driveline. The driveinline insertion alone saves 8 manminutes per car. Don't sound much, but made the costs back on the tooling within a year. Plus McPhersons and semi-trailling arms are old-tech.

A Holden engineer told me - cut the individual front and rear floors to length and retain the relative dimensions of the cab perimeter you have an enormousy strong structure. Caprice - they crashtested to confirm the simulations, turned the same results as Commodore - as you make a shell longer and the car heavier, usually makes it tougher to pass. Because it is esentially three boxes with an interconnection, it's very easy to make virtually any vehicle in any proportions off it. Sedan, couple, SUV, Ute, wagon.

They could make any car in lengths from 110-120+", assured it would pass any current regime. That's why it probably cost <$120m for Camaro before they paid for tooling and Oshawa needed a complete Zeta set, whereas Elizabeth needed stuff all because most of Caprice is identical to Commodore.

Really, we've seen a tiny vestige of what Zeta was capable of. Normally any new car is a $bill straight off the bat, to get to production. A unique floor stamp is $200M+ alone which is why they don't like changing footprints. It's the single most expensive piece of tooling, because it has to stamp heavy gauges and do it for 100s of K or millions of times. Instead of one floor, Zeta is two, and you can cut and shut them to a large range of sizes to support not only different wheelbases, but different vehicle proportions.

One set of Zeta floorpan presses could do virtually any Zeta vehicle from Camry/Torana sized up to Cadillac, including the Denali unibody. The Camaro's floorpans would have started out the same as a Caprice and Commodore (and Torana, and Cadillac, and Impala......) Trimmed to size, welded into a unit - bingo. You'd probably fabricate the and front/rear module horns differently, but you just saved squillions on lots of 3 sets of unique tooling for the underbody plus all the pre-engineering work. The A-panels (top cosmetic/stuctural) are unique, the expensive underfloor starts off as one type.
 

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I don't know about being thrilled, but our owners are not currently thrilled with Holden! Our DP didn't attend the meeting when they released information about some of the future models. From what I've heard, it was just a few photos of the MY16 Barina and the Euro stuff that is already coming. They flashed them up on the screen for a short amount of time and that was all.

The only thing killing Holden in sales at the moment is the aging product. This is going to be a tough year, because we basically have nothing new on the horizon. A couple of re-hashed old model Opel's is not going to save us or build any sort of momentum.

We desperately need the new Cruze/Astra, Barina needs a drivetrain upgrade and styling upgrade (it's not looked at favourably my customers) or a price reduction, Colorado needs the US face, 8 speed auto and interior upgrade, Captiva needs a complete replacement and the rumoured MY16 VF upgrades need to be fantastic.

MY15 Cruze was released to dealers today and I can say it's not going to help at all....A couple of new alloy wheel designs, a couple of extra features and basically the US MY15 front (a complete mess). If this has to last for 2 more years, they're dreaming. We'll be selling them for $16,000 soon.
 

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Moving on,
I don't see either Mondeo or Insignia bothering the scorers in Australia, both will be ignored
by the market as GM and Ford cede not only large car but mid size as well.
The lack of local connection with product is driving dealers nuts.

The contempt for Ford and Holden imports is exemplified by the markets preference for
Hyundai, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Nissan..
... anything but the other two. total dismissal.
And things will get worse without a local manufacturing footprint.
I would say its probably time for the United States to cut back on its ties with Australia's defense. This kind of attitude towards an ally is unacceptable. I find it very strange that among English speakers, there is almost no royalty to the Homeland and closest allies.
 

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I would say its probably time for the United States to cut back on its ties with Australia's defense. This kind of attitude towards an ally is unacceptable. I find it very strange that among English speakers, there is almost no royalty to the Homeland and closest allies.
You are kidding surely ?

If any quarter at all was given to Holden and what it has given to its Detroit masters then I would give a ****

But sadly I don't
 

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I would say its probably time for the United States to cut back on its ties with Australia's defense. This kind of attitude towards an ally is unacceptable. I find it very strange that among English speakers, there is almost no royalty to the Homeland and closest allies.
And we have a winner right here............................... FYI We're the only one's who have worked side by side in every conflict since WWII, how many other nations can say that they have supported the US that much?
 
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I would say its probably time for the United States to cut back on its ties with Australia's defense. This kind of attitude towards an ally is unacceptable. I find it very strange that among English speakers, there is almost no royalty to the Homeland and closest allies.
Look at the number of foreign-built and foreign-branded cars sold in the US (bestselling passenger car in the US for 1000 years running ring any bells?) and then in the same breath explain why Australians should be buying more GM-branded cars...
 

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Wait, are we seriously debating the obligation an English-speaking country has to purchase American-branded cars in order to obtain continued aid in global defence matters?
yeah some dumbarse thinks it's actually relevant :rolleyes:

I really don't know what else to say it just reinforces my belief that some people just shouldn't breed
 
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