But few changes to front-of-house, so no service or sales disruptions.
American automotive conglomerate General Motors is going through a financial rough patch and as is standard procedure, the company is investigating quick ways to make its operations leaner and more profitable. One such proposal on the table is a departure from the Australian market, with the Holden brand staying on as an importation business handled by a third-party.
That third party company is reportedly UK-based firm Inchcape, whom you may be familiar with as the distributor of Subaru, Citroen, and Peugeot vehicles in Australia. The rumour mill about GM’s exit began to turn when the Australian Financial Review spotted confidential proposals from within General Motors suggesting that an exit may be imminent.
When AFR spoke to General Motors and asked for comment, they had this to say:
“Under the leadership of Dave Buttner, who was appointed [as GM Holden CEO] in August last year, we are turning around the Holden business, growing sales, re-engaging and re-energising our distribution network & launching exciting vehicles like the all-new Acadia. We are fully-focused on supporting Dave in building a strong Holden for the future, as it remains an important part of GM’s business.” – Statement, General Motors
Inchcape is a natural choice for GM Holden to approach, given that of the top 10 brands sold in Australia, Subaru is the sole independent imported marque. Further, Holden’s volume of over 60,000 vehicles sold in 2018 mirrors a sub-60k figure that Inchcape sold across its three marques, so they have experience handling this kind of volume.
It’s possible that such a move could bring benefits to consumers, with Inchcape able to distribute the back-of-house costs (like logistics, administration and so on) across its brands. That would represent significant savings in operations costs, versus the overheads GM faces maintaining local operations. That said, the 350 designers and engineers engaged at Holden’s Port Melbourne & Lang Lang facilities will be retained, as part of GM’s global product development team.