It’s been a great run.
Hallowed Australian marque Holden has ceased its local manufacturing operations once and for all, with the Elizabeth Plant in South Australia producing its final car, a Commodore VFII SS-V Redline, at 10.45am this morning.
It’s an emotional moment for Australians, as both the Holden brand and the greater automotive manufacturing industry are subjects that sit close to the hearts of many. The Commodore is an especially emotional product, having been one of the most successful locally-built names for many years. So popular the Commodore was in its day that it’s nearly impossible to meet an Australian today that doesn’t have a memory that was shaped by a Commodore, or at the very least features one prominently.
“The passion and dedication of the team here is second-to-none, and it has been an honour to work alongside them. In the final years of production, we have been building categorically the best-quality cars to ever roll out of this plant, and our last car was our best. Together, we have achieved a string of productivity and quality awards in recent times, doing so during the closure period is testament to the skills, professionalism, and dedication of the team.” — Richard Phillips, Executive Director (Manufacturing), Holden
Holden was very much the final player in the local automotive production scene, with Ford and Toyota having closed their plants in 2016 and earlier this year respectively. At its peak in the mid-60s, Holden employed just short of 24,000 people across its Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales facilities, creating some of the most memorable six- and eight-cylinder vehicles and pushed the Commodore to great heights, with the most popular of them all coming in 1997, which sold an average of 100,000 annually for the three years it was on sale.
The decline of Holden began in the mid-2000s, where Holden’s marketshare fell to about 15% in 2006, a far cry from the 40% it commanded in the 60s.
However, in the last 70-years, Holden and indeed Australia has made some truly memorable machines, and our shores will continue to play a role in the design and engineering for Holden, Ford, and Toyota, who will go on to contribute to their global concerns and provide finer polish on local-market cars. Australia has, and will continue to contribute to the automotive industry worldwide, even if not in the form of Oz-assembled cars, which will be a point of pride to many. Though we can’t help but feel a little emotional that Australia can no longer lay claim to a local automotive manufacturing industry.
“Treating our people with dignity and respect was always our number-one priority during this transition, and we’re all proud we were able to achieve that. We see it as recognition of their dedicated service over the years. Today, however, is about paying tribute to the generations of men and women across Holden and our supply network who have given so much to our company. Holden is the icon it is today only because of these passionate people. On behalf of everyone at Holden, I thank you for your service, from the bottom of my heart.” — Mark Bernhard, Chairman, Holden
It’s far from the end of Holden though, with the management confirming that it has some 24 vehicle launches slated to take place before the turn of the decade, along with a “true V8, rear-drive sports car” that we suspect will come in the form of the Holden/Chevrolet Camaro. And of course, the next-generation Commodore is well on its way, with a turbocharged 6-cylinder mill taking place of the roaring atmospheric V8s we’ve come to love from the brand.