The new boss of GM Holden wants to displace Toyota as Australia’s biggest selling car brand by the year 2020, but has warned that historically low local car prices are unsustainable.
The company’s chairman and chief executive Gerry Dorizas threw down the ambitious plan in his first substantial comments to Australian motoring journalists in Melbourne last night.
The aim of displacing Toyota is ambitious on the current numbers, with Toyota having just under 20 per cent of Australia’s one million vehicles market, while Holden has about 10 per cent.
Mr Dorizas, 53, describes himself as a “commercial guy”.
He succeeds Mike Devereux as Holden boss and will be charged with managing the end of local car manufacturing by Holden in 2017, and turning it into an import only operation.
He said that “certain companies” were pushing cars to build the sale numbers and queried how many dealers were profitable.
“Yes, I believe they [prices] will go up. At some particular time.”
“My retail network is not stressed. [But] at some particular time this competition of prices will create a problem in the market.”
His aim was to build customer satisfaction through changes in the Holden product mix and service. He noted that the number of US car dealers has shrunk from about 68,000 15 years ago to around 28,000 today.
That’s the plan … we have to sell cars.
“If the whole industry doesn’t make money how are they going to reinvest?”
Mr Dorizas refused to comment on what cars will replace the locally made Commodore and Cruze. But he said the Holden brand image “has to become younger.”
He also would not give a categoric assurance that the Holden assembly plant would stay open through until the end of the 2017.
“That’s the plan … we have to sell cars.”
He said that Australia was not immune to globalisation, and the decision to close the Adelaide assembly plant was “sad”.
“I’m sad,” he said. “Talking with the people, they are proud people. They are committed are ready to prove what it mean to be a Holden employee.
“This is an industry that is changing and it’s going to become like Europe – like everywhere else in the world.”