Holden is killing off the Australian-built Cruze a year early, with 400 jobs to go

The end of the line for Holden’s small car.

Holden has announced the Australian assembly of its Cruze small car will cease in October 2016, a year earlier than the locally-made Commodore.

The Cruze is the first car to cease production since Ford, Holden and Toyota announced they will close their manufacturing plants in Australia. An estimated 400 of Holden’s 1200+ workers at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia will be made redundant as a result. Staff numbers have already dropped from around 2000, midway through 2013, when the closure was announced.

Around 70% of the parts used in the assembly of the Cruze are imported. Holden’s Elizabeth plant has made the small sedan since March 2011, while a hatchback version commenced production later that year.

The Cruze’s death comes 12 months before Holden shuts the gates on both the Elizabeth plant and engine plant in Melbourne. The Port Melbourne design studio will remain open and become a design hub for General Motors in the Asia-Pacific region.

The car manufacturer says it spent more than $25 million training factory workers with new skill sets for post-Holden careers.

The writing was on the wall for the Cruze with sales steadily dropping faster than the small car segment as a whole as cars such as the Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Golf snared potential customers. Sales went from 33,784 units in 2011 to just 15,222 in 2015.

After the Cruze, production of the Captiva is likely to end next, followed by the Commodore and Commodore Ute.

Here’s the statement from Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard:

“I want to acknowledge first and foremost the impact the end of local manufacturing has on people, and their families, across the country and throughout the industry. Our people remain our number one priority.

“As I’ve said since the first day I took up this role last year, my most important job is to support our people and I want to reaffirm that commitment to helping them wherever we can.

“Our focus is to manage the gradual wind-down of manufacturing between now and the end of 2017 in a way that treats our employees with respect and dignity as they leave the company and gives them the best chance at gaining future employment.

“In the coming months, we will be helping many in our manufacturing workforce transition to new employment, wherever possible. Holden is committed to supporting staff through this transition process, and all our people have access to career counselling, training and job-search assistance.

“October will bring to an end five and half years of Cruze production that saw nearly 125,000 Cruze models built and sold in Australia. I want to thank our people for the part they have played in Holden’s history, they should be extremely proud of their contribution to our industry.

“At its peak, 33,000 Cruze vehicles were sold annually in the most hotly contested segment of one of the most competitive car markets in the world.

“The best way we can honour our people and our heritage is to build a bright and successful future for Holden and that’s exactly what we are doing. Through the launch of 24 new products by 2020, a laser-like focus on customer experience and a rejuvenation of the Holden brand we are taking our company forward.

“The cessation of Cruze manufacturing this year was always a key part of Holden’s plan to gradually wind down manufacturing and ensure our people and the supply base have the maximum amount of time possible to transition. There is absolutely no change to our plan to build Commodore until the end of 2017.”

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