Recently appointed Holden chairman and managing director Gerry Dorizas says the company is aiming to be the top selling brand in Australia by 2020.
Speaking to media for the first time since taking over the job months after Holden announced it would cease producing vehicles in Australia by the end of 2017, Dorizas ambitiously said Holden will claw back the market share it has lost to arch rival Toyota and eventually find itself as Australia's favourite car brand.
"The strategy or the point where we want to go is to go back to number one," Dorizas said.
"In a boxing match there's 12 rounds ... I think we've gone through the eighth round. There's still some rounds to go, but we’ll be back."
Dorizas nominated 2020 as the target year that Holden would retain the title it once looked like owning for good.
The unscripted prediction is a bold announcement for a brand that at the turn of the century was a dominant number one, talking of 25 per cent market share but struggling to achieve 10 per cent in the face of a dramatic shift in customer demand away from the large cars Holden has long specialised in towards smaller cars and SUVs.
But the 53-year-old Japanese-born Greek national says there is no reason the brand cannot return to the top of the sales charts.
However, he said the market share of the top-selling car maker - currently Toyota - will drop, making that target more achievable.
Toyota's market share once hovered around 22 per cent but has slid to 18.9 per cent last year.
While that's still clearly ahead of Holden in number two - at 9.9 per cent - it's indicative of the fragmentation of what's considered one of the world's most diverse and competitive markets.
"The market shares are going to start levelling out," Dorizas said. "I don't see that we're going to be 20 per cent [market share] ... I believe that it will be 15 per cent one brand, 14 per cent the other, so everything will come closer together."
Dorizas admitted there was work to be done if Holden were to achieve its ambitious goal.
He highlighted a better product line-up, more focused dealer network and boosting the brand’s share with the all-important younger generation as key to driving sales.
"Of course, we need the product strategy which is being deployed," he said.
"We need the focus, together with the network, we need our focus as well.
"We have to refocus, it's going to take time, it’s going to take a lot of work.
"I believe the notion of 'no worries mate' is not the identification of how we work. We will work hard, and we need to get the credibility back."
Dorizas also pointed to servicing as key to Holden's success, saying customer and dealer satisfaction was crucial.
He said of the carpark of 2.2 million Holdens in Australia only about one quarter were getting their cars serviced at a Holden dealership.
"We don't service the carpark that we have in Australia," said Dorizas. "We will innovate ... we will get our customers back."
He said the demise of local manufacturing and its importance in the success of Holden - locally produced models have been the backbone of the brand for more than half a century - would not hold back its transition to a full importer.
"We have always been an Australian brand, we will always be historically an Australian brand," said Dorizas.
"The experience of the customer makes a brand, the correct product within the segments make the brand and also the best partners [dealers] ... make the brand.
"In Australia Holden is Holden, so there is history behind it ... we will come back."
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New Holden boss Gerry Dorizas said brand 'here to stay'
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According to Autocar magazine, a plan is under serious consideration by GM for a rear-wheel-drive V8 sports saloon to be developed and built in North America to replace the Commodore, which is sold there as a Chevrolet SS.
If the business case stacks up, the new-generation SS would be exported to Australia, where it would be pressed into service by both Holden and Holden Special Vehicles, which creates the VXR8.
Senior GM engineer Dave Leone said affordable rear-drive performance cars would remain part of GM’s product portfolio beyond the Aussie Holden’s demise.
“If you are a performance enthusiast, then rear-wheel drive is the way to go and that’s the part of the rear-drive [GM] Alpha platform will play,” Leone said.
GM announced it would stop making vehicles in Australia and New Zealand by the end of 2017 late last year, citing high costs and a poor supply chain as the reasons behind its decision, which puts an end to 70 years of Holden vehicle manufacturing in the company.
Toyota has also announced it will be pulling out of Australia by the start of 2017, leaving the country with no local vehicle production. Like GM, Toyota will instead move to become a vehicle importer in the country.
If a green light is given, the new model will be developed and built in North America, with Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) possibly creating its own variant as it does now with the Australian-made Commodore.
Senior GM engineer Dave Leone confirmed that the Detroit carmaker is interested in continuing the series beyond Holden's manufacturing closure.
The Dalby Bio-Ethanol Refinery was closed for 3 weeks last Saturday due to lack of demand for fuel grade ethanol.
In 2011 the Federal Government confirmed that the Ethanol Production Grants Scheme would be renewed for a period of 10 years. On that basis companies such as Dalby Bio- Refinery Limited and United Petroleum invested heavily in renewable fuels and worked hard to promote and market E10 Petrol and E85 to both Government and end consumers. However the Federal Government and State Governments have not taken any steps to ensure that the Oil Majors gave the consumer an option to buy the superior and greener fuels, nor did they take steps to ensure that their own fleets used these renewable fuels. Indeed both the Federal Government and State Governments know that the Oil Majors have been systematically removing filling positions from their sites to drive down sales, and not passing on the full excise benefit to the consumer. At the same time the Shell with their $1.63 Billion investment in Ethanol production in Brazil and BP with their massive ethanol joint venture also in Brazil, are selling and promoting ethanol fuels in many countries across the world. The Oil Majors were as very disappointed that the Ethanol Production Grants scheme was ratified, as they wanted to import ethanol from Brazil.
The Federal Government in a quest to make budget savings are considering a back flip on an Australian Government promise to the renewable fuels industry which had strong bi-partisan support. The BREE Report commissioned by the Department of Industry contradicts many previous Government and Industry Reports, and is fundamentally flawed.
The Dalby Bio-Refinery is struggling to break even due to low demand caused by Queensland State Government inaction. We now find that following the investment of many millions of dollars into the renewable fuel industry the Federal Government will close down the Australian Ethanol Industry on Budget Night. This is clearly unfair and sets a dangerous precedent to local and foreign investors in any industrial enterprise in Australia.
United Petroleum has been a very strong supporter of renewable fuels and particularly ethanol and sells its E10 products in Queensland at a 4 cpl discount to unleaded petrol. It has continued to invest in ethanol fuels due to the Ethanol Production Grants and representations by Government in support of greener and renewable fuels. The move by the Federal Government to shut down the industry will deprive its customers the opportunity to choose a higher octane, greener and lower pump price petrol.
On a number of occasions the Ethanol Producers have requested an Ethanol Mandate in Queensland to sure up demand which clearly acts to reduce production costs and ensure that the Major Oil companies promote the use of ethanol. The Queensland State Government decided that despite falling volumes due to lack of Major Oil Company support, and the fact that there are two Queensland producers in regional Queensland, that there was no reason to act. If the Federal Government decides to close the industry down on Budget Night the action that should have been taken by the Queensland State Government will be too late.
Government Mandates are in place in some 59 countries across the world for health reasons, environmental reasons, and energy security reasons. In the United States of America it is mandated that ethanol is added to almost every litre of unleaded petrol sold in every State of that country. It seems that Australia is the only country in the world to decide that renewable fuels should not be encouraged and fossil fuels are the future.
The Staff at the Dalby Bio-Refinery are hard working and highly skilled people and are worried about their futures. Further it will impact the contractors and suppliers to the Dalby Bio- Refinery most of which live on the Darling Downs. It is clear that whilst the Federal and State Governments talk about regional development when the election is over so is the support.
The Dalby Bio- Refinery is a very large purchaser of grain in the Darling Downs area and producer of high quality Cattle Feed. This supports our farmers by placing an effective price floor under the price of grain when the world prices fall to very low levels, which they do due the their cyclical nature. The loss of the Dalby Bio-Refinery will be just another blow to the farmers of the Darling Downs, at a time when drought is biting.
The Federal Department of Industry has not acted to encourage the renewable fuels industry in Australia and the BREE Report encourages the importation of renewable fuels into Australia. Clearly given Australia’s strong agricultural sector, a domestic renewable fuels industry is most important. At the same time the NSW State Government have been unable to enforce the 6% ethanol mandate that they have in place in NSW. The Major Oil Companies have time and time again flouted the NSW Ethanol Mandate and not met the NSW Government mandated targets without any proper reasons.
We call on the Federal Government to renew their commitment to the Ethanol production Grants Scheme to honour the green fuels and environmental commitments they made to the Australian people. We also call on the NSW State Government to enforce their legislation and bring the Major Oil Companies to heal.
Importantly the Queensland State Government must now take action and introduce an ethanol mandate to stabilize the industry.