Although most Americans consider large, rear-wheel-drive, V-8 cars to be the definitive historical expression of American automotive culture, the configuration is just as widely known and recognized in Australia, where for decades, the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon were some of the country’s best-selling models. And although Australians may still hold a warm place in their hearts for those Aussie icons, their fondness isn’t translating into sales. In a comment to Australian journalists at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Holden chief Mike Devereux confirmed to News.com.au that there were no concrete plans for the VF Commodore beyond 2016. The VF Commodore will serve as the basis of the 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally previously confirmed there are no plans to continue production of the Australia-specific Ford Falcon beyond 2016, adding the days of “one-off cars for one-off countries” are over. Holden’s Devereux said the company is looking to add a new product to its Port Elizabeth plant, and is considering an SUV or midsize car, but said that the vehicle must be a high-volume, top-10 seller, and describing the decision as “high stakes.”
The fact that Ford has not requested any government support for manufacturing in Australia beyond 2016 is seen as another indication that the company is intending to wind down its local manufacturing operations.
The situation is further exacerbated by a strong Australian dollar, making imports cheap, and exports expensive. In addition, gasoline is around $6 U.S. per gallon, making the more economical import and compact models more attractive. Holden currently builds the Cruze compact sedan at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Australia.