GM boss says Australia better off without car manufacturing

Holden’s departure from car making was good for Australia, according
to the international General Motors executive behind the decision.

News.com.au reports that GM head of international operations
Stefan Jacoby (pictured) told Australian media at the Detroit Auto Show that businesses should
not run on government incentives alone and closing Holden car making was the
right business decision.

“… I am of the strong opinion that this was the right thing
for Australia and this was the best thing for Holden overall,” said Jacoby.

He added that the decision was not made based on government
policy.

“With or without government incentives, it doesn’t pencil,”
he said. “Even if you add all the (government) incentives … it doesn’t make
sense to produce (cars locally).”

Car Advice reports that Jacoby conceded he didn’t handle the
announcement as he would have liked.

“Personally I think I have underestimated that kind of …
uncertainty of our consumers,” Jacoby said of the aftermath of the closure
announcement.

“Over the last year we found this uncertainty bigger than we
expected it to be. We expected that there would be some uncertainty, but we
thought we would have more or less initiated a lot of communications in order
to clarify our position. And we have to admit that we have to do more to really
clarify that we really mean it with Holden.

“Maybe from the very beginning we should have made more
efforts to clarify that the decision to wind down our manufacturing has nothing
to do with our presence as well. We have identified that and we will act now
accordingly.”

Jacoby said it was important to be transparent with Holden
workers, dealers and customers; and that the Holden brand will be retained. 

1400 factory workers will lose their jobs by the time Holden
closes its manufacturing plants in 2017. And, with the other two locally based
car makers, Ford and Toyota also set to end car making, in 2016 and 2017
respectively, many more people will be out of work.

On top of that, the inevitable job losses from car component
makers need to be taken into account.

In contrast, the UK car manufacturing sector this week received news
of job creation. The BBC reports that Jaguar Land Rover plans to start making sports
utility vehicles (SUV) at its Solihull plant in the West Midlands. The move
will create 1,300 new jobs.

The company currently employs 30,500 people in the UK.

British Business Secretary Vince Cable praised Jaguar Land
Rover’s decision.

“The UK’s automotive industry is thriving with a new
car rolling off the production line every 20 seconds, and increasing levels of
investment that’s helping to secure local jobs,” he said.

Image: GM