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State of Play: Holden in Australia.

374px-Holden_logo.svgAt the time of writing there’s still no firm answer on what will happen with Holden as a manufacturer in Australia. What is painfully and abundantly clear is this: if Holden ceases to build cars then so will Toyota. What follows from there is a huge increase in unemployment; not just the line workers in the factories but the suppliers, the companies that provide the raw materials in the form of electronics or metal or LEDs or bulbs or courier services and so on.

There’s been conflicting reports as to who/what/why from the Federal Government in regards to funding; the Labor Party says $150 million per year can be offered to keep Holden building whilst Opposition Senator Kim Carr says their is no committed funding for the automotive industry past 2020. The current acting Prime Minister, Warren Truss, says though that there are funds available now, in the order of over a billion dollars, thanks to unspent funds from other areas. The Government has written to Holden asking that they declare their intentions.

There are rumours that the decision is not Holden’s to make but the overlords in America; themselves in a state of change with the company just naming Mary Barra as CEO, taking over from Dan Akerson, the man that is said to have made the decision. However, there’s more to it than that. Holden needs to stay but it does need to undergo a fundamental change in its outlook and thinking. I made the point on radio that, as it stands, Holden is a critically ill patient that needs ministrations until a cure, KNOWN to be 100 percent effective and confirmed as available in just a couple of years is provided. A great example is the current situation in regards to bomb proofed vehicles for the Government fleet, with some sources claiming that Holden had not made a bid to supply these vehicles whilst others areBombproof BMW saying that they had bid but weren’t up to the mark. There’s also been questions about the costs, with one figured being mentioned of over one million dollars for just one vehicle whilst the main company involved, BMW, can provide a higher standard vehicle for cheaper, at just $525,000….

Ford and Chrysler, along with General Motors, were allowed to trade out of an incredibly difficult financial situation, brought on by well entrenched and hard to shift attitudes inside and out. This has been successful, with the US Treasury selling off the last of its shares; Holden can VF SS-Vdo the same and needs substantial re-investment as well. The Commodore is currently under severe evaluation in the States prior to being sold as the Chevrolet SS and is getting substantially good reviews. The Cruze is showing its age and needs a makeover to compete against rivals such as the Focus/Mazda3/i30 trio and more is needed to build here, such as is mooted for a new model by 2020.

Regardless, Holden and Toyota as a result, need the Government to continue funding but being hard headed about how this process will work will work against a fair resolution, especially with tens of thousands of workers livelihoods and potentially billions of dollars, not just millions, at risk of being lost to the future.

Update: as of mid afternoon,  December 11 2013, Holden has confirmed that it will cease manufacturing in Australia  from 2017. The decision was made in Detroit.