Holden silent as parent company closes plants in US, Canada

Holden stays quiet as General Motors announces it will slash 15 per cent of its US workforce and dump several models in a cost-saving exercise

Mary Barra Jpg

Holden is remaining silent about whether its operations will remain unaffected by the announcement from its global parent General Motors that it will shed some 14,000 jobs and close five North American plants – including its largest one in Canada – to realise a A$10 billion saving.

Despite a reference in the General Motors press release about a “reorganization (sic) of its global product development staffs”, repeated efforts to contact Holden for comment have gone answered.

Holden currently employs in excess of 500 people in its Design and Engineering division in Melbourne.

The company also announced in August it was adding 150 vehicle engineers to its roster, while spending on research and development local would top $120 million.

Holden managed to secure a stay of execution on its Lang Lang proving ground after local manufacturing was closed in October 2017, with the facility currently used to evaluate and develop cars for other GM markets like China.

However, GM has been systematically reducing its footprint across the globe in the last couple of years, selling its Opel/Vauxhall brands, withdrawing from South Africa, Russia and India.

None of Holden’s current fleet is affected by the impending plant closures. The Australian arm of GM currently sources the new Acadia seven-seat SUV from GM’s Tennessee plant, while the Equinox SUV comes from Mexico.

The three car making plants and two engine/transmission plants have, in a peak piece of corporate doublespeak, had their production “unallocated” after 2019, while GM has confirmed the impending shutdown of its largest Canadian plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Almost 3000 workers will be put out of a job, which accounts for a third of GM Canada’s workforce.

The Oshawa closure is eerily reminiscent of the company’s withdrawal from Australia, with GM receiving billions of state and federal government dollars to keep its operations active in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deep disappointment” at the closure, while workers walked off the job on Monday in protest.

While no announcements were made, the closures are likely to have the effect of reducing its model count. On the block is the majority of its sedan product, including the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt, Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala.

GM says the changes will save the company US$6 billion ($10 billion).

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a statement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”



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