General Motors executives have spoken regarding the decision to end Holden’s manufacturing operations in Australia, with international operations boss Stefan Jacoby stating that it was his idea and the head of GM in North America confirming that the Holden brand will remain.
News Corp reports that Jacoby admitted it was at his suggestion that the assembly of Holden cars in Australia ended. This will happen by 2018.
He also said that federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s demands that GM state its plans had no influence on the company’s decision.
“We are business driven,” Jacoby said.
“We have our own agenda and we are not pushed by anybody from the Australian government to make that decision.”
Jacoby also supported Holden managing director Mike Devereux’s claim that the Holden decision was made after Devereux’s appearance before the Productivity Commission. Many have expressed scepticism about this claim, with Devereux accepting a promotion in Shanghai earlier in 2013 and Jacoby snubbing an invitation to meet industry minister Ian Macfarlane when Jacoby visited Australia.
“I proposed the decision and … the final approval came from the board,” said Jacoby.
“After the Productivity Commission hearing we had all the elements together to make this decision. It was a very serious decision.”
Jacoby also said that no amount of government support would have saved Holden, however, the government’s commitment to securing free trade agreements did play some kind of role.
“And since the market is so open, with a lot of Free Trade Agreements coming up, it is fundamentally impossible to produce vehicles in Australia, regardless of what the government is saying,” he explained.
Also speaking to media at the Detroit Auto Show, GM’s Alan Batey, the head of the company in North America, said the decision was a difficult one, though the Holden brand would continue, and would not be replaced by Chevrolet.
“[I] know everybody [at Holden], love the brand, had a wonderful time for four years working at Holden, so it was a tough moment, disappointed and sad,” he told Fairfax.
“Whenever you close a chapter like local manufacturing it’s a tough moment.”
He added that he believed Holden could regain its position as the number one Australian car brand.
“Holden will remain a very important brand in our portfolio,” he said. “I believe we can win in Australia.”