Nearly 500 employees of Holden, GM's Australian outpost, will be without jobs as the company adjusts to the high dollar, fierce competition from foreign rivals and lagging Commodore (shown above) and Cruze sales. In 2005, Holden sold 66,794 Commodore models. But that number plummeted to just 30,532 units last calendar year, prompting the automaker to lay off 170 workers just five months ago. With this latest round, about 100 jobs will be cut in its Melbourne product development facility and another 400 will be slashed at its Elizabeth plant, in South Australia, as the company slows production from 400 units to 335 units per day.
The Australian government has invested more than $2.2 billion ($2.29 billion US dollars) of its own funds to help Holden over the years, and there are future subsidies on the line, but many are questioning the investments. When Holden managing director Mike Devereux was asked about the brand's future, he was far from optimistic. "I cannot predict the future... I can't control what central banks do ... I cannot control the value of other currencies that we compete with and I cannot predict what that will do to our business.''