Why let the facts get in the way of a good headline? Holden are not holding on at all. The company has slipped down the sales table again and the slow downward spiral has the automotive community in Australia transfixed.
Holden used to fight with Ford for the top of the sales table in Australia until Ford left the fight for good. A decade or so ago, Holden was overtaken by Toyota for the #1 sales position, which Toyota has never relinquished since.
Last year, Holden was overtaken by Mazda as the #2 seller in Australia. We were stunned.
In February 2013, Holden was punted from the Australian Top 3 for the first time in its 65 year history, thanks to Nissan. Holden blamed a computer error for that one (seriously).
Today it has been revealed that Holden were overtaken by Hyundai in monthly sales for March – and Nissan beat them again, too, placing Holden in 5th position on the sales table with market-share continuing to plummet. This month, Holden are blaming the strong Australian dollar (fair) and the Japanese government (fuzzy, at best).
In a pre-emptive strike on the currency issue, Holden popped up in the news yesterday for having been the recipient of more than $2billion in government funding and tax breaks over the last 12 years. That’s more than $2,000 per car built. Holden’s argument is that it couldn’t continue to build cars here without the taxpayer subsidies, citing the dollar and the alleged Japanese government’s manipulation of the Yen as cases in point (so THAT’s why those Japanese cars sell so well here, not quality).
There’s been plenty of chatter here in Australia over the last few years about whether our tiny car manufacturing industry is worth propping up. We give assistance to Toyota and Ford, as well as Holden. With two of the three manufacturers we give assistance to tumbling down the sales charts, the chatter is only going to get louder.
Holden were once revered as The Australian Car Company, building cars in Australia that were suited to Australian conditions. The truth is that they stopped being an Australian car company many years ago and compounded their loss of reputation with poor quality Korean-sourced cars, several of which being cynically marketed and short-lived as a result. Any Aussies still own a Holden Viva?
Australians till take some pride in Holden’s design and engineering arms. The Camaro and Holden’s V8 racing success being the most obvious examples. But even those lack some relevance as the Camaro isn’t sold here and people take their eyes off family V8’s in increasing numbers.