Change is in the air at General Motors. With the company's stock price rising to new highs, the US government is divesting itself from the last of its holdings in GM. The auto giant also recently announced a complete restructuring of its European operations, as well as its Chinese operations, and – there was something else – oh yeah, the appointment of the industry's first female chief executive. But for our friends Down Under, the biggest news has just been announced.
Following earlier reports, GM has confirmed that it is shutting down all its Australian manufacturing operations by the end of 2017. The move is expected to cost the Aussies some 2,900 jobs over the next four years as manufacturing comes to an end at Holden plants in Elizabeth and Victoria. GM cites as a principal reason for the move the strength of the Australian dollar, which has risen in value against the US dollar from 50 cents in 2001 to as high as $1.10, making it 65 percent more expensive for an American company to manufacture in Australia than it was a decade ago. The decision follows a similar announcement made by Ford earlier this year.
Although Holden's design studio will remain untouched for the time being, its engineering department is being gutted, leaving the division to focus strictly on sales and parts. Just what that means for the future of the Commodore (Holden's only home-grown product in a portfolio of rebadged Chevys) remains to be seen, as does the fate of the Chevy SS which Holden manufactures for export to the US market. But for now you can view the full announcement below.