Can ex-Toyota Chief Dave Buttner save Holden?


With sales in freefall, Holden just boned its seventh managing director in a decade. (Pro tip - when the ship is sinking, changing captains generally doesn’t help.)


Handover at Holden

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) Mark Bernhard will hand over the poisoned chalice of the top Holden job to former El Presidente of Toyota Oz, Dave Buttner.

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Big Butts is a three-decade veteran of Toyota.

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some of the most boring cars imaginable, and by delaying the adoption of cutting-edge technology until is was almost outdated - that’s the Toyota way.

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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 And if there’s one thing Shitsville Chevy needs right now, it’s an injection of extreme outdated conservatism, bordering on narcolepsy induction.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. 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

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

Run As Far Away As Possible

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.

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

To GM, Australia is Shitsville. (At least when I refer to it that way, it’s satirical. To GM it’s a literal truth.)

Don’t Buy

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, latest big cheese of Holden

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.


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