The Holden Commodore continues to defy the trend away from large cars, judging by the sales figures in New Zealand over the past couple of years.
It was third overall last year, selling 2761 units (53 a week), just behind Suzuki Swift (2968) and trailing the runaway Toyota Corolla (5993). So far this year Commodore (above) is still third in the pecking order, behind the same two cars.
Is it the Commodore name – it has been around since 1978 – or the Holden brand that lures buyers? Is it something to do with the Anzac spirit? Perhaps a bit of each. In Australia, it has more than 70 per cent of the large car market.
But what will happen to the Commodore name beyond 2017, when Holden shuts its manufacturing arm in Adelaide? What will happen to the Cruze name? The medium-sized car is also built in Adelaide.
Holden isn’t saying officially, but an Australian bigwig has hinted that both names may be discontinued. Philip Brook, its executive director of sales and marketing, told a media function across the ditch that the future of the Commodore nameplate was “up for discussion.” This after former Holden managing director Mike Devereux last year said the Commodore name would continue.
“We are going to have Cruze and Commodore in our plant through to late 2017 … after that there will be a small car replacement and there will be a large car replacement,” Brook said. “The detail around the exact line-up and the naming and everything like that will happen over the next couple of years.”
He said deciding whether or not to continue the Commodore was not a priority in the short term. “We’re just going to work through that. It’s a significant decision that we need to make in amongst a whole lot of other significant decisions we need to make.”
But he said Holden planned to defend the large car market with a new model when it becomes an importer after 2017. The smart money is on a Chevrolet, built by Holden parent General Motors in the US on a revised version of Holden’s own rear-drive Zeta platform. Such a car would lend itself to high-performance variants. Perhaps a Chevrolet SS replacing the HSV badge?
As for the Cruz sedan and hatchback, look to South Korea. GM’s head man there has talked of boosting exports to Australia and New Zealand. CEO Sergio Rocha reportedly told a US motoring publication: “We already export to Australia today. We can further boost the volume.”