Holden is to give its 42-strong dealer network in New Zealand a new look as it moves from being a manufacturer to an importer of rebadged products from its parent company General Motors.
The changes are expected to be more than new signage, a lick of paint and a new smiley face cutout on the showroom floor. Rather Holden is likely to offer customers more of an interactive digital experience.
“We do have an exciting plan to reinvigorate the Holden brand over the next couple of years, including the presence in the showroom,” said Holden NZ marketing manager Marnie Samphier.
“However, it is very early stages and we are a long way away from estimating the cost of the investment required.”
Holden Australia has put the cost of updating its 223 dealers across the ditch at around $A200 million. The makeover will be rolled out in both countries early in 2017, before the company closes its car (Adelaide) and engine (Melbourne) plants later the same year.
Holden executive sales director Peter Keley has promised customers a “whole new experience.” He told Australian media that the time was right for a new programme.
“The current one has been in vogue for 20 years,” he said. “The fact that we’re closing manufacturing around that time is, to be honest, coincidental.
“Holden needs to maintain a very fresh and contemporary look in the market place. The current programme has served us exceptionally well but it’s time to move on.”
But what won’t change, insists Keley, is the lion badge. “While the old signage has lasted us for twenty years, the actual badge, the lion, still looks contemporary and there’s really no need to update that at all,” he said. “The Holden lion will stay the Holden lion.”
Holden has just launched its last Australian-made Commodore, the revised VF II range. It comprises sedan, sportwagon, ute, long-wheelbase Caprice and will go on sale in New Zealand soon. The Commodore badge will continue beyond 2017, the company has said, although it is not known what imported GM product will wear it.
Whatever it is, it will almost certainly be one of 24 vehicles Holden will launch in New Zealand and Australia over the next four years. These include rebadged European, South Korean, Asian and – perhaps – North American vehicles and follow on from the rebadging that Holden has done with GM products for many years.
The Commodore has consistently been among the top three best-selling passenger cars in New Zealand. It was second on the list last month with 362 registrations, helped of course by existing VF II on runout.