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Holden set to cull Commodore, Astra range

By Tim Robson, 18 Jun 2019 Car News

Will culling the Commodore range help Holden?

Soft sales, complex model mix will see Holden reduce Commodore, Astra ranges by year’s end

UPDATED Holden will take the red pen to its burgeoning Commodore range before the end of 2019, despite improving sales for the iconic nameplate, while its Astra line-up is being cut back to a single body style.

With 15 variants currently available across two powertrains, three engines and two body styles, reports indicate that Holden's complex Commodore line-up will be pared down to best reflect its best-selling set by the end of the year.

After a slow start, the Commodore is selling more strongly than it has in recent months. In the face of a softening new car market and slumping passenger car sales, the Commodore has lifted to its best figures since its launch with 670 sold in May, and it remains the best-selling large sedan in the country.

2018 Holden Commodore ZB

However, it’s still around half of what Toyota’s medium-sized Camry sedan sells, and about a third of what Holden’s Colorado - the company’s best-selling model - does in a month.

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Many brands across the spectrum are offering vastly simplified powertrain options to their customers, and Holden’s long-held strategy of offering a wide array of specs and options to suit multiple buying profiles – including fleet purchasers and private buyers – isn’t as effective when the sales volume isn’t there to support it.

WhichCar understands that the diesel variants – offered in the base model LT and luxury Calais – are first in the firing line, while the V6 version of the RS may also go in favour of the four-cylinder FWD version to simplify the ‘price walk’ between the various cars.

Similarly, we reckon the V6-powered RS-V may be culled in favour of the four-cylinder RS, while Holden will also be looking hard at the Calais/Calais-V pairing, with the latter likely to survive in its role as range-topper of the Commodore fleet.

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Every grade of Commodore model apart from the VXR is available in both liftback and wagon body styles, but as Australian car buyers continue their stampede towards wagon-shaped SUVs, Holden may be able to further reduce model complexity by culling all but the most affordable fleet-focused LT, the mid-level RS and the more luxurious Calais-V.

This would potentially bring the number of Commodore models on sale down from 15 to around six, which would greatly reduce model complexity and simplify the offering to the buying public.

Holden acknowledged to WhichCar recent comments made by its sales director Peter Keley about potentially reducing the Commodore line-up in response to sales, but declined to comment further.

MEANWHILE, the Holden Astra line-up will be cut back to one body style, with Holden confirming that the wagon and sedan variants are now in run-out mode.

The Korean-sourced Astra sedan (below) is essentially no longer available to Holden, thanks to the closure of the plant from which the rebadged Chevrolet Cruze was sourced. Alternative supply from the United States was investigated, but the impending closure of the Lordtown, Ohio plant meant that continued supply would have become an issue.

Poor sales were also a factor, with the hatch outselling it at a rate of about 46 to one.

2017 Holden Astra sedan

The UK-sourced wagon sold a little better, but the sale of former GM brand Vauxhall to the PSA group meant that sourcing supply from the factory in Cheshire was no longer an option.

Sales of the Astra range are struggling in 2019, with the model posting some 20 per cent fewer sales for 2019 to the end of May (2876) than for the same period last year. The similarly sized Toyota Corolla - itself in the sales doldrums in 2019 - has posted more than 11,000 sales in the same time period.