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End of an era as GM Holden cuts the Commodore from its Aussie car line-up in 2020.
One of the longest-running vehicle nameplates in Australia, and an icon of the local automotive industry, is dead. GM Holden has announced that the Commodore will be dropped from its line-up in 2020, ending a 42-year run as one of the country’s most popular vehicles.
Holden says it is streamlining its line-up to focus on SUVs and light commercial vehicles. The car maker is also axing the Astra small hatchback.
While the news is likely to shock fans, the writing has been on the wall for the Commodore for some time.
Sales of large sedans have been in consistent decline for years now as buyers shift to high-riding SUVs and dual-cab pick-ups. As Holden points out, at their peak in 1998, large cars in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales, while this year registrations are projected to hit about 8700.
The Commodore’s decline has been particularly swift in the past two years. Holden’s US parent company General Motors closed its Australian manufacturing operations in October 2017, ending 69 years of local vehicle production. Unlike Ford, which decided to axe its iconic Falcon nameplate when it closed its factory doors in 2016, Holden continued the Commodore moniker on a new, fully imported model based on the Opel Insignia.
The new version, launched in February 2018, caused a stir among rusted-on Commodore fans not only because it was the first imported Commodore – sourced from then-GM sister brand Opel of Germany – it was the first front or all-wheel drive rather than rear-drive Commodore, and for the first time ever there was no V8 option. (More: Do you remember these classic Nissan sports cars?)
Since the first locally built VB Commodore launched in 1978 as an Opel-based model, Holden has sold more than three million Commodores in Australia and New Zealand. Over the years it was also the focus of a number of export programs to the Middle East, South America and the United States.