Over the past four decades, the Holden Commodore established itself as one of Australia’s most-loved vehicles — but the car has now reached the end of its road.
- Holden will scrap its Commodore brand in 2020 after 42 years
- Despite declining sales, the decision has shocked many car lovers
- The company says it wants to instead focus on SUVs and utes
Two years since Holden ended its Australian manufacturing operations, the company today quietly revealed the Commodore would be discontinued in 2020, along with the once-popular Astra.
It was an unassuming end for a car that once boasted annual sales of more than 200,000, becoming the nation’s best-selling car for 15 consecutive years.
“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades,” Holden interim chairman Kristian Aquilina said in a statement.
“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage.”
The company made the announcement as part of a larger policy shift revealing a “modified portfolio dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles”, which account for more than three-quarters of Holden’s current sales.
“Now, with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for … SUVs and utes,” Mr Aquilina said.
Despite the Commodore’s declining popularity with drivers, the decision still came as a shock to many, with social media users expressing their dismay.
“RIP Holden Commodore. My first car,” one wrote.
“Holden Commodore axed after 41 years of Australian motoring … it’s like having a Melbourne Cup and maybe one Australian horse running,” another tweeted.
“Insane this is, just insane.”
Over its history, the Commodore has powered drivers to 16 touring car and Supercar championships and 26 Bathurst victories.
However, it is understood the current Commodore racing model will continue to be part of the Supercars championship until the end of 2021.
‘Spectacular fall from grace’ for Australian icon
Australia’s car market has largely fallen out of love with large sedans in recent years, with Commodore sales dwindling after massive peaks in the late 1990s.
“This year, the prediction is there’ll only be around 9,000 [sales]. That’s just how far Aussie tastes have changed,” said Wheels magazine editor Alex Inwood.
“It’s been a pretty spectacular fall from grace for the lion brand.”
More than 3 million Commodores have been sold since the VB model was launched in 1978.
A further 15 models were subsequently introduced, during which time the word “Commodore” almost became synonymous with Holden itself.
“The reason we all feel such a connection with it is that it was such a popular car — it was Australia’s most popular car for 15 years straight from 1996 to 2010,” Inwood said.
“They could almost sell 10,000 Commodores a month during its heyday.
“A lot of us are going to be feeling a little bit sad today.
“Now that they don’t make cars here any more they’re just one of more than 60 brands competing for Aussie dollars.”
Many of Holden’s former Adelaide workers have struggled to find stable employment since the closure of the Elizabeth plant left 950 staff without jobs in 2017.