GENERAL Motors says it is pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of a strategy to exit markets that do not produce adequate returns on investments.
The Detroit-based company said in a statement yesterday it would wind down sales, engineering and design operations for its historic Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand in 2021.
It also plans to sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China’s Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year.
GM, the owner of the Vauxhall brand until its sale to the PSA Group in 2017, has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1,500 in Thailand, the company said.
CEO Mary Barra said in a statement the company wanted to focus on markets where it can drive strong returns.
She said GM would support its employees and customers in the transition.
The company said it would scale back operations in all three countries to selling niche speciality vehicles. It would make the same move in Japan, Russia and Europe, where ‘we don’t have significant scale’.
‘We are pursuing a niche presence by selling profitable high-end imported vehicles supported by a lean GM structure,’ international operations senior vice president Julian Blissett said in the statement.
The Detroit automaker expects to take $1.1 billion worth of cash and non-cash charges this year as it cuts operations in the three countries.
GM has a long history in Australia with the Holden brand, where cars were designed and sold in the US and other markets. The 2008 and 2009 Pontiac G8 muscle car, for instance, was designed as a Holden Commodore and built in Australia.
But GM said Holden’s market share, which was nearly 22 per cent in 2002, fell to just over four per cent last year.
GM has struggled in Asia in the past year. Its international operations, which include China, lost £153 million last year, including $100 million (76.5 million) in the fourth quarter.