After two years, confusion still hounds Holden cars. If the plant is no longer around, why can you still find their vehicles in New Zealand and Australian roads? Where do they come from? Answering these questions is tackling its long history and the complex automotive industry.
What Happened to Holden?
Holden is originally an Australian brand. Its history began in 1856 with James Alexander Holden. The family used to be in the saddlery business, making upholstery, until they became an exclusive distributor for General Motors in the country.
By 1931, both companies joined forces and formed General Motors-Holden Limited. Besides supplying GM vehicles, they also produced car parts, such as engines and bodies, for the brand.
It was only after World War II that Holden designed and released their line of vehicles. Since then, the Holden brand expanded to accommodate the growing demand. From 1926 to 1990, it even operated assembly plants in New Zealand, although its headquarters remained in Melbourne.
A series of unfortunate events, including the growth of foreign brands like Ford or Toyota in Australia, led to the decline in sales of the business. Eventually, Holden ceased operations in 2017, but it doesn’t mean the brand is over.
What Is Holden Today?
Shutting down operations isn’t the end of everything, and that’s the case with Holden. It explains why you can still find Holden car dealers in New Zealand. Perhaps the lingering question is, who makes these vehicles? The answer: General Motors.
GM is now the parent company of Holden. It’s unclear why the multinational business decided to retain the brand, but one possible explanation is the market. Both Australia and New Zealand are substantial vehicle markets. The latter, for example, is one of the top countries with the highest car ownership rates.
With its long history, Holden possesses more than a name recall. It is already part of the culture in the Oceana region. Any marketer knows emotions, such as nostalgia, can drive people to buy.
GM also operates many assembly plants globally. In China alone, it has four. You can also find a factory in South Korea and Thailand. Others are in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. Closing shop in Australia is, therefore, a non-issue when it comes to producing Holden cars. It even still has a head office in Port Melbourne, where the factory used to be.
Is Holden Still Holden?
This is a question that GM might not answer as it can be a trade secret. One of the common beliefs is the company used rebadging engineering with Holden. It means it’s launching a car under a different name and a logo.
For example, the US Chevy SS (Super Sport) is Holden Commodore, perhaps the most successful Holden model in history. Meanwhile, Holden Commodore ZB is Opel Insignia.
The automotive industry is complex, and Holden is part of the mix. Regardless of the name, though, one thing is clear: it remains a well-loved and reliable brand in New Zealand and Australia. Plus, you have GM’s passion for design and innovation. Owning a Holden is and will be a win-win.