The decision of General Motors to stop producing Holden vehicle in Australia by 2017 has been met with anger, sadness and resignation. However, GM has made it clear that while Holden production will cease in Australia – no thanks to high costs and strong local currency -- the brand with the "lion and stone wheel" logo will remain in the country.
"Holden is here to stay," GM Holden Chief Executive Mike Devereux remarked after announcing the planned production halt. Easing consumer’s negative reactions to Holden’s production pullout will definitely be a public relations nightmare for GM, but the carmaker’s independent brand experts are confident that Holden will not only survive the public relations nightmare but they expect the iconic brand to be one of the most valuable assets GM has built in the country.
“The fact that they're no longer made here will cause some dissatisfaction and backlash but there'll still be a lot of people who like them," said Danny Samson, professor of management at Melbourne University. He remarked that Holden is a very well regarded brand, noting that there is “no way you'd want to throw it away."
True enough, Holden’s biggest asset in Australia will be its long history in the country. During Australia’s rise to prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s, its people were driving Holden ute -- short for utility vehicle. The Holden ute’s pickup-style flat bed was suitable for transporting surfboards or sheep and became both Australia's bush and the suburbs.
Holden became more famous in the 1970s, thanks to its HQ series and the iconic advertising campaign featuring the jingle "Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars." An intense rivalry with Ford, particularly on Bathurst's Mt. Panorama race track, took Holden to another level. National Library of Australia even named one of its models a priceless national treasure. Likewise, the death in a 2006 rally crash of Holden racing icon Peter Brock was a day of national mourning.