Car News

General Motors could lose Commodore name

News late last year that Holden would continue the Commodore nameplate on imported models was met with consternation, but that feeling could be short lived.

PSA, WAS on the verge of collapse only three years ago, will be second largest vehicle manufacturer in Europe once its $3.1 billion purchase of Opel is finalised.

The purchase includes six manufacturing plants, five assembly plants and one engineering centre, and Opel will continue producing its current vehicle architecture and fulfil its current agreement with GM-Holden Australia. This means we’ll get what Holden said we would: the Commodore name stuck to the back of German imports.

Indeed, in a statement today, Holden has confirmed we will see the Commodore in the immediate future:

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“Right now we are focussed on ramping up Astra volume and preparing to launch the fantastic next-generation Commodore in 2018.”

However Holden doesn’t own the Commodore name (or Astra), which was first used by Opel in 1967 (then owned by GM), and the rights to it will soon belong to PSA unless specifically claused.

PSA and GM have confirmed it will fulfill its current licence agreements and will supply cars for the next five years to Holden, but PSA intends to improve Opel’s books and increase profits. The European company has already announced it will implement its efficiency strategies to do so, and will see Opel moving to PSA platform architecture. It’s hard to imagine GM would have cut dollars to retain the Insignia platform as it leaves Europe.

So while the near future strategy for Holden doesn’t change, its long term outlook is not so simple. First, GM will need to purchase new licenses to import future PSA-Opel vehicles if it wishes to continuing using them. And even if GM produces or sources its own new vehicle for Australia it would need to purchase the rights to the Commodore name.

GM’s large cash reserve from the sale will be used to invest in future technology, such as electric and autonomous cars, and spending money on keeping a nameplate would have to be low on the priority list.

It would appear the future for Holden is unfortunately not a simple one, and although we’ll get the quasi Commodore for now, it might be the last time we see it. And perhaps it would have been better buried with the ‘real’ one.


  1. Realist
    March 7, 2017 at 11:31 am — Reply

    Dead Brand Walking…..

    • Cameron Sanderson
      March 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm — Reply

      I agree. Maybe the headline should read ‘GM to lose the Holden name’? Of the 3 manufacturers to close, Holden unfortunately seems to be struggling the most, and if they’re out of Europe (big call) then where does 25Mil Oz stand?
      Interesting the last line refers to ‘the real one’. I recall as a small kid in 1980, visiting the uk and wondering how come they had all of these ‘commodores? The commodore came from there, so maybe it’s fitting the commodore goes out the same way it came here. And Holden may be hot on its heels?

  2. Andrew Riles
    March 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm — Reply

    So business as usual at Holden then…..chopping and changing nameplates and/or manufacturing sources regularly has just now extended to the Commodore and whatever nameplate, if any, replaces it…

  3. Der0
    March 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    So give up the ghost of the Commodore and deliver us a next generation Holden Insignia instead. Then when the licensing deal expires with the end of that generation of vehicle, we’ll get a Holden branded Chevrolet, Cadillac or Buic instead?

  4. Monty
    March 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm — Reply

    No Holden customer will know the difference. Holden customers have been driving Korean and European cars for ages. They will only buy Australian cars but. Hence the amazing number of dreadful Captivas on the road.

  5. Azmodan
    March 8, 2017 at 12:50 am — Reply

    PSA as owners, no thanks. Can’t wait for the hero model to be powdered by the French engine de jour, the 1.6l turbo, getting uglier and coming with that trade mark poor French interior ergonomics.

  6. guest
    March 10, 2017 at 9:48 am — Reply

    Please GMH just end it, allow it to end with the VF II and move onto the Insignia, if Ford Australia can figure it out to end the Falcon name then why cant the executives at GMH let Commodore end with the last Australian version.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.