Can Big Butts save Holden? Ex-Toyota boss to run Australia's failing GM operation.
Can a re-badged Toyota Australia President stop Holden from sinking without a trace in the Great Southern Ocean, or is it already too late?
You can skip to the part where Holden gets a new boss here >>
If you have been dead from the neck up for the past 20 years, Holden - GM’s antipodean outpost (a.k.a. 'Shitsville Chevy') - is the formerly iconic Australian brand that shot itself in the foot more enthusiastically than any other, throughout the past two decades.
After burning billions in taxpayer support and alienating ‘Strayan Governments of both persuasions, Shitsville Chevy imported a range of low quality dungboxes, such as the mighty Craptiva, from the old Daewoo factory.
They shut the the local factory in the living cemetary we call ‘Adelaide’, boned their workers, had a party, talked themselves up, tried virtue signalling as a marketing strategy (and that worked so well)...
In particular on this 'virtue signalling' front, they targeted LGBTI and ethnic groups to, quote:
“Better reflect and connect with today’s Australia” - Holden, as quoted in SMH
Just to detain ourselves momentarily on the breathtaking absurdity of this course of action: Cars are gender-neutral, typically. They’re sexuality neutral, and they’re ethnicity neutral. But if you’re a transgender Syrian lesbo - Holden has exactly the right car for you...
Frankly I doubt this increases the brand’s attractiveness to ordinary Australians. And they did bone their marketing dude, so perhaps they decided this was the wrong way to go.
They also launched a new Commodore that nobody cares about or wants … then Big Bro in Detroit (GM) sold the factory where that car is built to the Frogs, while Holden wasn’t looking.
They failed to acknowledge their problems, the sum total of which is why Shitsville Chevy is currently sinking without a trace in the stormy South Pacific, in the minds of so many ordinary car buyers.
To give you some perspective on the staggering betrayal perpetrated upon the public by Holden, in March 2012 the company falsely claimed it had allocated $1 billion to secure the future of its Australian manufacturing operations until 2022 >>. It announced the closure of those operations >> less than two years later.
Conclusion: You cannot trust a thing they say.
More recently, Shitsville Chevy’s desperation reached fever pitch when both sales and market share flushed themselves to the lowest point in 70 years. They boned 10 per cent of their dealers, incredibly enough, just like taking out the trash.
To celebrate that milestone, just a couple of weeks back they boned another 60 workers in sales and admin from head office, and the company decided to pay mug punters $500 a throw to test drive their remaining shitty cars.
That’s proper desperation, right there.
HOLDEN LAUNCHES 7th ALL-NEW MD in 10 YEARS
Now that you’re all caught up: The one thing you can count on here is that Holden has maintained is its extreme revolving door policy for its senior executives, having just boned its seventh managing director in a decade.
Sorry: Allow me to Donald Trump that statement. That’s not consistency. That’s what I meant to say. This extreme discontiguity in leadership sees Shitsville Chevy lurch from one crisis to the next, in the directionless manner of the Keystone Cops.
Mark Bernhard is the current boss, for the next few days, but before him there were five just like him over seven years, and three of them stayed for only about six months.
In a private, discrete ceremony at an undisclosed location (Port Melbourne) on August 1, Mark Bernhard - Holden's factory whisperer - will hand over the poisoned chalice of the top Holden job to former El Presidente of Toyota Oz, Dave Buttner.
Big Butts is a three-decade veteran of Toyota, another specialist factory closer, and the first non-Nipponese dude to steer SS Toyota Oz in about 30 years.
He took the helm there in 2014, and since then, sales and market share remained dead flat.
Still, Toyota has been the Shitsville market leader for 15 years - and they got there by offering some of the most boring cars imaginable, and by delaying the adoption of cutting-edge technology until is was almost outdated - that’s the Toyota way.
Even today, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are too new-fangled for the Big T, and I’m told (perhaps unreliably) if a worker at Toyota collapses and begins frothing at the mouth, today, they still send a telegram to the Vatican and request an exorcist. Before applying the leeches.
If Toyota were a colour - that colour would be beige. And if there’s one thing Shitsville Chevy needs right now, it’s an injection of extreme outdated conservatism, bordering on narcolepsy induction.
Mr Buttner is a beancounter - my personal favourite kind of automotive executive. Yesss! What I like about them so much is that typically, they think everything - cars, people, whatever - can be reduced to numbers on a page.
According to his Linkedin profile, Big Butts has a bachelor’s degree in economics from La Trobe University. I love economists - they all think they understand mathematics, but only because they never studied it properly. They don’t know what they don’t know. I guess none of us do...
“Dave’s proven track record and understanding of Holden’s markets — and the company’s potential in those markets — makes him the right leader for this next phase in the evolution of the business.” Barry Engle - President of GM International
I’m surprised Mr Engle never used the word ‘exciting’ there (‘exciting next phase’) Senior executives … such bullshitters. They just presume everyone’s a dickhead who will swallow their crap. And typically they have no clue about when to shut up. Mr Engle went on:
“GM’s most senior leadership (in Detroit) strongly believe that we have a rare jewel in Holden, an iconic Australian brand that understands the needs of Australian and New Zealand drivers.” Barry Engle - President of GM International
Allow me to translate: if you are one of the few Holden employees left, panic is the appropriate response. Look for a new job now. Take the first one that comes up.
If Big Butts doesn’t work out, Detroit will be shutting the doors for good on Shitsville Chevy. They’re already on the record saying they don’t give a shit about markets like Straya.
WILL HOLDEN PULL OUT OF AUSTRALIA?
Holden could shut up shop at any time. That’s not my opinion (actually it is, but it’s formed off the back of a statement from former Holden boss Peter Hanenberger, who led the company from 1999-2003 - when it was the top selling brand in all of Shitsville.
"[Mr Hanenberger] believes there is “zero interest” in Australia from GM and that it could walk away from the market. “They basically have now decided to go on three big markets,” he says, citing China, North America and South America." - SMH
Read this story in full >> for context.
To GM, Australia is Shitsville. (At least when I refer to it that way, it’s satirical. To GM it’s a literal truth.)
So, if you are thinking about buying a Holden, my strong suggestion is to reflect this view right back at them.
Take the test drive, and the $500, by all means. But buy a better car from a competing brand that will still be here in three to five years.
Frankly, when only the stern of the ship is above the waterline, and the deck is at 45 degrees to the horizon, it really does not matter who the captain is.
A final word now from the new Shitsville Chevy boss, Big Beancounting Butts himself, who takes the helm officially on the 1st of August:
“I am honoured and energised by this incredible opportunity to lead Holden.” Dave Buttner
You know I agree with him on this. This is not a credible opportunity … unless Detroit threw the biggest possible wad of cash at Big Butts, and his cunning plan is to catch until the party’s over.
I guess that would honour and energise many of us. Publicly.
Big Beancounting Butts or not, the future for Shitsville Chevy is a foregone conclusion. Sad to say: They’re toast.