Holden to fend off Ford and Mitsubishi, hunt Hyundai
Holden on: Despite the demise of the locally built Commodore, Holden forecasts it will be able to retain the company's high position in the sales charts.
New products to help Holden maintain fourth place on sales charts
19 June 2017
By DANIEL DeGASPERI
HOLDEN has banked on this year’s fresh product onslaught to help it cling to
fourth position on the brand-sales charts, despite the impending effects of
October’s factory shut-down, as well as Ford and Mitsubishi closing in on its
Five years ago Holden was second only to Toyota for annual brand sales,
recording 114,665 sales in 2012. It was overtaken by Mazda in 2015 and then
Hyundai in 2016 as sales slumped to 94,308 units last year, while the top three
brands continued to post six-figure tallies.
According to sales data to the end of May 2017, Holden’s 32,840-unit haul has
fallen by another 10.4 per cent year-to-date, remaining behind Hyundai (37,568
and down 10.7 per cent), and with Ford (31,582 and down 0.7 per cent) and
Mitsubishi (30,407 and up 6.5 per cent) hounding at its heels.
Meanwhile the Australian offshoot of General Motors (GM) has after three years
replaced its executive director of sales Peter Keley with Michael Filazzola,
who spoke with GoAuto about plans to turn the sales tide around at the national
media launch of the Astra sedan in Byron Bay this week.
Asked where the 21-year Holden veteran would be happy with the brand finishing
in 2017, Mr Filazzola was clear: “We want to be in the top four.”
“My drive is to ensure we actually don’t finish fifth, sixth, or seventh. We’ve
got to keep the leadership within Hyundai, Mazda and Toyota. We have to keep it
in that segment, I think, and that is where I’m aiming towards.”
As the October 20 closure deadline looms for local manufacturing and the
production end of the Commodore – that year-to-date has accounted for more than
a quarter of Holden’s sales with 8889 units – Mr Filazzola said the brand would
push hard with Astra, Colorado and its forthcoming Equinox SUV.
“I would say that it (growth) really relies on this segment, the Astra segment,
and the Colorado segment, they’re the two that will actually dominate for us
(and) if they do, then no problem,” he continued.
“The Astra hatch, it continues to grow month-on-month. It’s probably not where
we’d like it to be from a brand perspective, we had a much more aggressive ramp
(up period) that we wanted to sell at. (But) with the sedan, that will fit
nicely into the segment that we’ve been missing, that we haven’t been able to
“This is what I think will fill that (sales) void that we’ve got at the moment.”
While the Astra’s 3155-unit total is a long way from the Cruze’s 4621-unit haul
this time last year, Holden hopes the sedan can add another 40 per cent of new
volume and, once firing, its small car nameplate could achieve around 2000
In better news, the Colorado 4x2 has risen 12.4 per cent to 991 year-to-date
sales, while the Colorado 4x4 has soared 21.8 per cent to 7423 units, together
almost eclipsing Commodore as Holden’s top-selling vehicle.
“We’re very happy with where Colorado is,” Mr Filazzola continued.
“Again, it’s probably taking longer for us to establish that as a solid
product, but it is growing, we’re actually meeting a lot of commitments we’re
making within the brand ourselves.
“When you look at OEMs as they launch products, how long it takes for the
product to really establish itself, Colorado is actually ahead of the curve.”
The next major piece in the Holden recovery puzzle will not, however, arrive
until the fourth quarter of 2017.
Incredibly, sales of the current 11-year-old Captiva increased by 0.9 per cent
so far this year, and Mr Filazzola explained that only five-seat versions of
that model will later this year be discontinued as the new-generation Equinox
The seven-seat Captiva will continue to sell alongside Toyota RAV4-rivalling
Equinox until the Kluger-challenging Acadia arrives in the second half of 2018.
“Captiva keeps selling, I think about how old that vehicle is, yet it still
holds its own,” the sales executive said.
“And then you’ve got the Equinox which will do the five-seater, and then
obviously the Captiva that will continue until the new Acadia comes along.
“It (Equinox) is a different product than Captiva. We want it to spur on extra
volume. So I think we’ve still got a line-up there that… it’s not like we’re
shutting the tap off and we don’t have anything to replace it.
“We’ve got 7.1 per cent share, it’s tough out there, there’s lots of
competition, OEMs are bringing out new products all the time so it’s not easy
to hold onto share. But we’ve got very good new products coming.”
Mr Filazzola further added that such new products would not only increase
volume in each respective segment, but also diversify sales beyond one dominant
model that he accepted for Holden had been Commodore for a long period.
Despite being 4728 units behind Hyundai over the first five months of this
year, the sales executive pointed to that South Korean manufacturer’s reliance
on the i30 small car as a potential opportunity for Holden as its new products
“If you have a look at Hyundai, what do they rely on?” Mr Filazzola said.
“The i30, for their volume. If that car doesn’t do well, they struggle. So we’
ve actually looked at the Colorado, we’ve looked at the small cars, we look at
the SUVs, and we’ve tried to actually ensure that we’ve got a product for every
customer within our range.”
Hyundai accepted that with the previous-generation i30 up to 90 per cent of
buyers selected the entry-level version that, for several months of the last
calendar year, retailed at $19,990 driveaway with a free automatic gearbox.
The new-gen i30 lobbed last month from $21,450 plus on-road costs in manual
trim, with sales down 32.6 per cent year-to-date and, being around one-third of
Hyundai’s annual volume, contributed to a greater decline than Holden.
Holden director of corporate communications Sean Poppitt, meanwhile, placed a
clear target in front of the brand for 2017.
“If we can finish this year selling one more car than we did last year, I
consider that a win,” he told GoAuto.
“Because that would be the first time in probably 15 years that we haven’t gone
back on market share. Now, the market’s going to decide that. The strength of
what we do is going to decide (it). We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We
know how big the challenge is, but you’ve got to have a great mindset.
“If you’re not here to do that, then you might as well go home now.”