Holden is axing the Commodore after decades as its top-selling car and 26 wins at Bathurst.
The Commodore will be retired at the end of the year, with the current ZB model the last to be produced as Holden moves to an all SUV and commercial vehicle line-up.
Holden’s interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina said on Tuesday the decision was not taken lightly, considering the car’s proud heritage.
“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades,” Mr Aquilina said in a statement.
“But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and utes.”
Still one of my fondest #Holden #Commodore memories – getting the chance to interview the talented Aussie engineers behind the final Commodore update, the VF II. I did a story on how cars go from prototypes to the final product. Story and video: https://t.co/RSAKqFr2UA pic.twitter.com/vYG23wTNsg
— Paul Maric (@PaulMaric) December 10, 2019
At the peak of large car sales in 1998, Australians bought more than 217,000 vehicles, but those figures are likely to reach only about 8700 cars this year.
Holden launched the Commodore with the VB model in 1978.
Since then, more than three million have been sold across 16 different models.
The Commodore was also Australia’s top-selling car for 15 straight years to 2010, and took the chequered flag at Bathurst – Australia’s most iconic motor race – for the first time in 1980.
Local production ended in 2017 when Holden closed its vehicle assembly operations in Adelaide.
The nameplate continued as an imported model, but sales this year have slumped 37 per cent to just 5417 to the end of November.
Holden’s decision to focus on SUVs and utes similarly spells the end for the small Astra sedan, which will also be axed in 2020.
Sales of both models will continue into the new year as the company runs out existing stocks.
Mr Aquilina said Holden’s decision was consistent with market trends and customer preferences.
“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments,” he said.
“So far this year SUVs and utes have increased to 76 per cent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing.”