Holden to decide Commodore manufacturing future beyond 2018

Automotive manufacturer Holden is set to decide the long term manufacturing future of its Commodore car in the coming weeks.

The car maker will have to decide whether it will invest billions of dollars to develop its next generation vehicles, or call quits on local production of its cars, according to a report by SMH online.

A decision about Holden’s manufacturing future beyond 2018 is expected to be made before the year’s end, the report states.

Confirmation by Holden chairman and managing director, Mike Devereux that a decision will be made about the Commodore manufacturing future comes a month after reports first surfaced that Holden will begin cutting jobs as it moves its engineer and design work for post-2014 Commodore models off-shore. 

Last month, Holden general manager Mike Devereux dismissed those reports stating that there is “definitely” a role for Australia in the company’s long-term plan, but did not disclose details.

Devereux said Holden has internal plans to engineer in Australia, but did not reveal which models would be engineered or designed in Australia after 2014.

“What I can tell you specifically is that it is difficult today to do things in Australia, to continue to manufacture things in Australia with the economic and political climate that we’ve got, and we at Holden fight every single day for the right to continue to do the three things that we do here…that is to design, build and engineer cars," he said.

The next few weeks will be interesting times for the Australian automotive industry which seen its fair share of new cars rolling of production lines and industrial strikes this year.

Holden’s post-2018 decision on the manufacturing of the iconic Commodore car could be indicative of the future direction of automotive manufacturing in Australia.

While industry, manufacturers and workers, are hoping that Australia will play a major role in Holden’s long-term manufacturing plan, global economic and manufacturing trends and statistics are telling us that we need to be realistic and pragmatic about how me make cars – the bottom line being that off-shoring car production to Asia or the Americas remains a real and attractive possibility for automotive manufactures, locally and aboard.

Just this week Holden chairman and managing director, Mike Devereux told the National Press Club the carbon tax is a ‘heavy and unfair cost’ for local automotive players and called for policy consistency to help secure the sector’s future.

“For the industry, we estimate that between 30 to 50 million dollars a year in increased costs will have to flow into the local industry,” said Devereux at the National Press Club this week.

“Whether or not we are able to recoup what is really a tax on just the locally-made vehicles. Because, if you think about it, the 85% of the vehicles that are imported (to Australia), they don’t have any carbon tax associated with them – a carbon tax will add cost which is a different path I think for Australia.”

Holden is currently preparing the 2013 VF Commodore for production.

Production on 2013 VF Commodore will continue in various iterations until at least 2017. Production beyond 2018 will be decided in the next few weeks.

Holden has been making cars in Australia since 1948.

Image: 2010 Holden Commodore Omega sedan. The Sun Herald , The Daily Telegraph.