Ex-Toyota chief to head up Holden's Australian operations

Dave Buttner to take over the reins at the struggling former Australian manufacturer as Mark Bernhard departs GM

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DAVE Buttner, the former president of Toyota Australia charged with the job of closing down its Altona-based Camry manufacturing operations, will head up Holden from the end of this month, the company has announced.

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Meanwhile, Mark Bernhard, a long serving General Motors employee who was appointed to oversee the closure of Holden's manufacturing operations, will depart GM, the company has announced.

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Holden said Buttner's appointment to the role "comes at an important time for the Holden business, as it seeks to leverage its strongest ever vehicle portfolio to win more customers, grow sales and
strengthen GM Holden for the future".

Buttner, an experienced executive in Australia’s automotive landscape comes to the role after a marathon 39-year tenure at Toyota, joining the company in 1987. Before that Buttner held positions at Ford for 11 years.

The industry stalwart also held the position of Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) president from May 2015 until May this year when Mercedes-Benz chief Horst von Sanden took over.

Buttner steered Toyota through its transition from longstanding Australian car manufacturer to full line importer in 2017, fronting the painful questions surrounding the restructure, job-losses and rehabilitation.

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In his new role, Buttner will be all too familiar with the raw wounds at Holden, following its local manufacturing exit the same year and will be charged with the task of reversing the company’s sliding sales.

To the end of last month, year-to-date Holden registrations were down 22.6 per cent with the new imported Commodore struggling to recover the drop off in sales of the Aussie-made version.

Bernhard kicked off his career with Holden in 1986. “Holden is where it all started for me. It has been an honour to lead Holden as we laid the foundation for a new future of this iconic Australian company,” he said in a statement. “Holden was born here and has a special place in our hearts. I wish Dave and his team every success for the future.”

Buttner will start as chairman and managing director of GM Holden on August 1, 2018.

 

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Barry Park
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Senior Journalist

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