The “Lion” roared one last time today as the last new vehicle produce in the Australia, a Holden VF Commodore, rolled out of the GM-subsidiary’s plant in Adelaide, to mark the end of a 70-year history of producing cars there.
GM Holden Ltd. built its first car, the FX Holden, in 1948 while the last was a gleaming red Holden VF Commodore, a six-cylinder rear-wheel drive sedan, at the plant in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth that had grown over decades. At the end, there were nearly 1,000 employees at the facility.
“It’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go probably one of the best cars around the world,” an auto painter who identified himself as Kane told reporters, according to the Detroit News.
Toyota shut down its facility in Melbourne earlier in the month. Ford and other makers have slowly been shuttering plants in the country during the past few years.
(End of the line: Australia’s auto industry all but shuts down this month. For the story, Click Here.)
Australia was once a significant manufacturing site for the industry, with products built there being shipped to markets as far away as the U.S. and Europe. But high costs and the government’s decision not to continue costly incentives, led the last automakers in Australia to pull out, a move that a report by the University of Adelaide has predicted will ultimately cost about 200,000 jobs.
“We haven’t seen in recent history the collapse of an entire industry, but that’s what is happening,” Professor John Spoehr, co-author of the University’s report, told the Associated Press.
While Holden will no longer be producing vehicles in the country, it will still have a significant presence in Australia, about 1,000 direct staff and a network of 200 dealers employing 6,000 people. The company is retaining design and engineering teams working on local and global programs as well as its Lang Lang Vehicle Proving Grounds.
(Click Here for more about Toyota ending production in Australia.)
“Treating our people with dignity and respect was always our number one priority during this transition and we’re all proud we were able to achieve that, we see it as recognition of their dedicated service over the years,” Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Bernhard said.
“With 85% of all workers to date successfully transitioning, we’ve worked closely with our people to support them. Holden also appreciates the partnership and assistance of the state and federal governments, along with the unions, over many years.”
However, Bernhard wanted to focus importance of the moment, honoring the workers who helped produce more than 7.6 million vehicles during the company’s history.
(To see Ford’s departure from Australian auto manufacturing, Click Here.)
“Today, however, is about paying tribute to the generations of men and women across Holden and our supply network who have given so much to our company,” he said. “Holden is the icon it is today only because of these passionate people. On behalf of everyone at Holden, I thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart.”