Holden Logo Holden, formally known as General Motors Holden, is an Australian automobile manufacturer with its headquarters in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The company was founded in 1856 as a saddlery manufacturer in South Australia. In 1908 it moved into the automotive field, before becoming a subsidiary of the United States-based General Motors (GM) in 1931. After becoming a subsidiary of GM, the company was named General Motors-Holden's Ltd, becoming Holden Ltd in 1998 and General Motors Holden in 2005. In 2017 October 20 it will cease manufacturing vehicles in Australia.
Holden sells the locally produced range of Commodore vehicles, supplemented by imported GM models. Holden has offered badge engineered models in sharing arrangements with Chevrolet, Isuzu, Nissan, Opel, Suzuki, Toyota and Vauxhall Motors. In 2013 the vehicle lineup consisted of models from GM Korea, GM Thailand, GM in the US, and self-developed Commodore, Caprice, and Ute. Holden also distributed the European Opel brand in Australia in 2012 until the Opel brand's Australian demise in mid-2013.
Since 1994, all Australian-built Holden vehicles were manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia, and engines were produced at the Fishermans Bend plant in Melbourne. Historically, production or assembly plants were operated in all mainland states of Australia. General Motors New Zealand Limited operated assembly plants in New Zealand from 1926 until 1990. The consolidation of car production at Elizabeth was completed in 1988, but some assembly operations continued at Dandenong until 1994.
Although Holden's involvement in exports has fluctuated since the 1950s, the declining sales of large cars in Australia led the company to look to international markets to increase profitability. On 11 December 2013 Holden announced that it will cease vehicle and engine production by the end of 2017, however, the company will continue to have a large and ongoing presence in Australia importing and selling cars as national sales company.Holden will retain their design centre, but with reduced staffing.Since 2010 Holden has incurred losses due to the strong Australian dollar, and government grants have been reduced.In May 2014 GM reversed their decision to abandon the Lang Lang Proving Ground and decided to keep it as part of their engineering capability in Australia.
In 1852, James Alexander Holden emigrated to South Australia from Walsall, England and in 1856 established J.A. Holden & Co, a saddlery business in Adelaide.In 1885, German-born H. A. Frost joined the business as a junior partner and J.A. Holden & Co became Holden & Frost Ltd.Edward Holden, James' grandson, joined the firm in 1905 with an interest in automobiles. From there, the firm evolved through various partnerships and, in 1908, Holden & Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery.The company began to produce complete motorcycle sidecar bodies in 1913, and Edward experimented with fitting bodies to different types of carriages.After 1917, wartime trade restrictions led the company to start full-scale production of vehicle body shells. J.A. Holden founded a new company in 1919, Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) specialising in car bodies and utilising a facility on King William Street in Adelaide.
By 1923, HMBB were producing 12,000 units per year.During this time, HMBB was the first company to assemble bodies for Ford Motor Company of Australia until its Geelong plant was completed.From 1924, HMBB became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, with manufacturing taking place at the new Woosville plant.These bodies were made to suit a number of chassis imported from manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Dodge. In 1926 General Motors (Australia) was established with assembly plants at Newstead, Queensland; Marrickville, New South Wales; City Road, Melbourne; Birkenhead, South Australia; and Cottesloe, Western Australia utilising bodies produced by Holden Motor Body Builders and imported complete knock down (CKD) chassis.In 1930 alone, the still independent Woodville plant built bodies for Austin, Chrysler, DeSoto, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Hupmobile and Willys-Overland as well GM cars. The last of this line of business was the assembly of Hillman Minx sedans in 1948.The Great Depression led to a substantial downturn in production by Holden, from 34,000 units annually in 1930 to just 1,651 units one year later.In 1931 General Motors purchased Holden Motor Body Builders and merged it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H).Throughout the 1920s Holden also supplied tramcars to Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board. Several have been preserved in both Australia and New Zealand.