“No longer will you be able to call us the Commodore car company.”
That’s the message from the chairman and managing director of Holden, which is desperate to reinvent itself as it approaches the end of its often illustrious seven decades of Australian vehicle manufacturing.
Mark Bernhard is a man with the enormous task of leading the reinvention of the company that has relied on big cars and big engines - and the fact they were made in Australia.
As of late 2017 it will have almost none of that. The Holden Commodore will be a hatchback imported from Europe without a V8 engine.
“We also have a brand challenge to overcome the perception of the traditional Holden; V8s, Bathurst, manufacturing. We’re probably perceived as a little skewed to the blokey side.
“We need to broaden our appeal to a wider audience, to today’s Australians. Our appeal needs to be more multicultural. We need to be attracting more young people, we need to be attracting more women to our brand.”
Yet at the same time – and unlike arch rival Ford – Holden is keen to acknowledge and leverage the immense history of Holden, one that began as a saddlery in 1856 and morphed into the manufacturing of Australia’s first car, the 48-215, in 1948.
“We remain fiercely proud of our history - that won’t change,” said Bernhard.
Accompanying Holden’s big buck advertising campaign as part of Holden’s transformation is a tweaked logo (it’s now silver) with a new font for the bold “Holden” that accompanies it, as well as an exclusive deal with Australian music producer Flume, someone Holden describes as the “essence of today’s Australia”.
Holden is also offering 24-hour test drives in an effort to take some of the pain out of the car shopping task.