Did you know that there was a proposal late last year by a Belgian businessman to continue manufacturing vehicles at the Holden plant in Australia?
Mr Guido Dumarey the owner of the Punch Corporation had met with both the Australian State and Federal Governments earlier this year with a plan to continue manufacturing vehicles at the Holden Elizabeth plant. In a joint statement between General Motors and the Punch Corporation, the parties said they had concluded talks and it was not a viable business model so the whole thing has collapsed.
A Non-Disclosure Agreement has governed the discussions so neither party involved was able to discuss any of the proposal’s details. The South Australian Premier Mr Jay Weatherill was due to travel to Detroit in March 2016 to convince GM to sign the deal.
The Punch Corporation took over a redundant General Motors plant in Strasbourg on the border between France and Germany in January 2013 and began making transmissions, which it now sells to automotive companies including Holden, Audi and BMW in a highly successful operation.
This has been more disappointing news for the Holden workers and comes on top of another announcement to wind down production of the Holden Cruze, which is built in Australia. Mr Weatherill told reporters that he still plans to visit Detroit to discuss with GM their plans to support the Holden workers and to put to them proposals about the future use of the plant at Elizabeth.
The South Australian State Government is talking about standing by it’s auto workers and continues to express their surprise and disappointment at the sudden announcement from the Punch Corporation and General Motors as it didn’t match earlier statements by both these parties.
On top of that news Holden announced it would cease production of the Cruze from October 2016, ending five and a half years of production, with nearly 125,000 cars built. The Commodore range will continue to be produced until late 2017.
General Motors Holden have announced that they will be helping their manufacturing workforce transition to new employment with each worker having access to transition support services and up to $3,000 in approved retraining.
With the Punch Corporation deal collapsing the South Australian Government has appealed to the Federal Government to free up around $800 million in funding that was originally tagged to support the car industry workers. This money could also be used to directly help the autoworkers and the companies who supply into GMH to diversify and find new markets.
GMH received a $30 million grant from the South Australian Government to help it produce the Cruze, with the provision that the plant stayed open until the middle of 2016 and Cruze production remained online until late in 2015.
The company said imported Opel Astra’s would replace the Cruze before 2020.