Holden closes its Australian manufacturing arm forever

The million dollar Ute. This Holden V8 automatic SS Ute (Light My Fire) – is the final Commodore Ute ever to be built in Australia, vehicle number 7,687,674 – it is the second last vehicle down the Elizabeth SA production line

The final Holden built in Australia, a Commodore VFII Redline (manual) rolled off the Elizabeth line today at 10.45am (Adelaide time), 20 October 2017. It ended 69 years packed with a memorable home grown heritage.

From the very first Holden 48-215 built at the Fishermans Bend Vic production line on 29 November 1948, to the final VFII Commodore Redline to come out of the Elizabeth factory on 20 October 2017, Holden’s Lion badge has been a part of the fabric of Australian manufacturing. That has all come to an end.

Holden is the second oldest transportation company globally, starting out as a saddler business in Adelaide SA in 1856. Almost 100 years later, Holden ushered in a new era of automotive history when it introduced Australia’s first mass-produced car, the 48-215, in 1948.

Since then, more than 7.6 million cars rolled off Holden’s Australian production lines (including export models) from 1948 to 2017, 7,687,675 to be exact.

Last ride from Elizabeth SA. This SSV Redline V8 manual (Red Hot) Commodore Sedan completes the set as vehicle number 7,687,675 for Holden’s local manufacturing

The final four cars built at Elizabeth SA will be kept as part of Holden’s ongoing heritage collection. These are the models:

  • Caprice V V8 automatic (Switchblade) – Final Caprice = 7,687,672
  • Calais V V6 automatic (Son of a Gun) – Final Commodore Wagon = 7,687,673
  • SS Ute V8 automatic (Light My Fire) – Final Commodore Ute = 7,687,674
  • SSV Redline V8 manual (Red Hot) – Final Commodore Sedan = 7,687,675

The peak production year for Holden was in 2005 when 153,026 models including the VZ Commodore came down the line. But for the purists’ 1958 was the peak performance from Holden when it held 50.3% of all car sales in Australia.

Holden was also in demand around the work with exports accounting for 60,518 vehicles in 2005. These were shipped to 10 countries including the Middle East and North America.

In its heyday, Holden employed 23,914 across seven facilities in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia, that year was 1964. But at the close of business today, the final Elizabeth plant employees only numbered 945.

Here are the GM Holden Vehicle Production Milestones that will be remembered:

First Holden (48-215) launched                      November 1948 (Fishermans Bend, Vic)

One millionth (EJ)                                           October 1962 (Dandenong, Vic)

Two millionth (HK)                                          March 1969 (Dandenong, Vic)

Three millionth (HQ)                                       June 1974 (Pagewood, NSW)

Four millionth (VC Commodore)                    June 1981 (Dandenong, Vic)

Five millionth (VN Calais)                                August 1990 (Elizabeth, SA)

Six millionth (VX Commodore SS)                 June 2001 (Elizabeth, SA)

Seven millionth (VE Commodore)                  August 2008 (Elizabeth, SA)

Looking to the future, Holden has stated it intends to remain a diversified business and a powerhouse of the Australian automotive industry for many years to come. Employing approximately 1000 direct employees in Melbourne and across national zone offices.

Holden will also retain its highly-skilled Design and Engineering teams, working on local and global vehicle and transportation programs. This includes retention of Holden’s world-renowned Design Studios and the famous Lang Lang vehicle Proving Ground near Melbourne in Victoria.

This is in addition to the nearly 6000 people employed across Holden’s 200-strong national dealer network, ensuring Holden’s customers are continued to be looked after and all warranty and spare parts needs continue to be met.

Here is a summary of what Holden has outlined for its future path:

    • Beyond October 20, Holden will continue to employ approximately 1000 direct staff and an additional nearly 6000 people across its 200-strong national dealer network.
    • Holden will launch 24 major vehicles and 36 new drivetrain combinations by 2020.
    • Holden will have a world-class and diverse SUV line-up, including the all-new Equinox hitting showrooms in November 2017 and the all-new Acadia SUV in 2018.
    • The esteemed Commodore nameplate will live on in 2018.
    • Holden will introduce a true V8, rear-drive sports car to Australia. We are building Holden’s biggest and best vehicle range ever: a true product onslaught.
    • Holden is taking a leadership position with next-generation mobility technology through Maven and OnStar, and an ability to capitalise on GM’s leadership in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology.
    • Holden will retain a Design and Engineering workforce of approximately 350 people beyond 2017, working on local and global programs.
    • Holden vehicles will continue to be tuned and tested for Australian conditions and customers with the retention of the famous Lang Lang Proving Ground in Victoria;
    • Holden’s world-class Global Design Centre continues to contribute to, design and execute local and global product programs, such as the Buick Avenir and Opel GT.

An Australian built Holden, sorry there is no such thing.