It’s finally been confirmed after months of speculation – a new General Motors venture will supply hand-picked US models for Australia and New Zealand starting later this year. In doing so it will replace long-time performance company Holden Special Vehicles.
The first vehicle GM Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) will deliver will be the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ pick-up truck. It and future Silverado models will be converted to right-hand drive by Melbourne’s Walkinshaw group, which has a 33-year association with GM Holden.
The hero car sold through GMSV outlets Down Under will be the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette. It will be built in right-hand drive not in Melbourne but right from scratch at GM’s Bowling Green plant in the US state of Kentucky.
Former Holden NZ chief Kristian Aquilina – now interim chairman and managing director of GM Holden – said the venture is an important investment in Australia and New Zealand.
“This new venture directly adds sales, marketing and aftersales roles to GM’s 200-strong presence in Australia, and indirectly supports over 150 skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs at our partner in Victoria.”
GMSV will be established alongside GM’s existing business units in the region: Holden Aftersales and Isuzu New Zealand. The new venture will be headed up by Joanne Stogiannis, the director of GMSV. Ms Stogiannis has worked for GM for more than 20 years.
“The new investment by GM in the Australian and New Zealand markets will bring extra competition to niche luxury and performance segments of the car market, enhanced choice to consumers while underpinning new employment opportunities,” Ms Stogiannis said.
Long-time GM Australia executive Peter Keley, who will leave the company at the end of October, will help Ms Stogiannis establish GMSV’s dealer network in Australia and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese car company Vinfast is believed to be the winning bidder for Holden’s 877-hectare Lang Lang test facility south east of Melbourne.
Holden put it up for sale after GM announced in February it was axing the Holden brand at the end of this year. It is understood the winning offer exceeded A$20m.
Vinfast is owned by one of Vietnam’s richest men, billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong. His company already has links to GM, having secured a partnership to distribute Chevrolet models in Vietnam. It is also due to take ownership of a former GM factory in South Korea.
In the lead-up to the sale of Lang Lang, Vinfast has been hiring dozens of former engineers in Australia from Ford, Toyota and Holden. Although the vehicles will be manufactured in Vietnam, they will be engineered, tested and developed in Australia.