FORMER Holden managing director Alan Batey believes there is too much value in the Holden brand for General Motors to drop the marque for Chevrolet once local production ceases in late 2017.
The current executive vice president of General Motors in North America told the Australian press at the Detroit motor show today that while the December 11 announcement was devastating, it is far from the end of the Holden nameplate.
“Tough. Love everybody. Love the brand,” he revealed. “I had a wonderful time for four years working with everyone down at Holden. So it was a tough moment, disappointed and sad.
“But at the same time the brand stands tall. I think we’ll continue to have a great presence in the market. We’re keeping our capability from a design perspective down there under Mike Simcoe’s leadership. We have a lot of talent that we want to leverage, so Holden will remain a very important brand in our portfolio. I believe that we can win in Australia.
“But from a personal perspective it was a tough moment.”
Mr. Batey also dismissed the rumours suggesting Chevrolet replacing Holden in Australia after the cessation of manufacturing in late 2017.
“Holden is such a strong brand. I struggle with where that came from. We’ve seen other brands move out of local manufacturing in Australia, and their presence has remained strong, and we will be the same.
“If you were starting out with a clean sheet of paper, then that would be something different. But you’re not. You’re starting out with Australia’s own. I don’t think it would make real sense to put bow ties in front of Holdens down there. I don’t think that would make sense at all.”
Furthermore, Mr. Batey believes that Holden sales will not be permanently affected by the closure announcement.
“Early signs (are strong),” he said. “In fact I was talking to Philip Brook (Holden Executive Director of vehicle sales, service and marketing) over the Christmas period and things are looking pretty good.”
However Mr. Batey refused to reveal whose vehicles exactly would be imported as the replacement for the locally made VF Commodore, WN Caprice and JH Cruze post 2017.
“Honestly I don’t have anything to announce today,” he said.
Replacing the now President of GM Mark Reuss in Australia in 2009, Mr. Batey served as Chairman and MD of Holden until 2010.