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:
“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.