Is Holden about to change its advertising slogan to “Football, Magpies, Kangaroos and Holden cars”, a nod to its 1970s jingle? Don’t bet against it.
Holden just announced its platinum sponsorship of the AFL’s Collingwood Magpies in a three-year multimillion dollar deal.
The news came 24 hours after Holden announced the three-year sponsorship of the NRL football code, the State of Origin series and the Kangaroos national squad. Both deals are Holden’s first major football sponsorships in 15 years, and are said to be worth more than twice the sum it spends on V8 Supercars.
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Mark Twain had the bizarre pleasure of reading his own obituary. It would be a salutary experience.
The obit for Australian car manufacturing, however, has the aspect of a soap opera. It’s been running for years with the same grinding inevitability and fading stars.
Rumours that the death have of those one-time Strayan icons – Ford’s Falcon and Holden’s Commodore – have not in fact been exaggerated were confirmed today at the Detroit motor show. Once the champions in the two-horse race that was the local new car stakes, both nameplates will be sent to the knackery in 2016 (or at best be assigned to imported American models).
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Enough already, with the propping up of the auto industry. If this ongoing saga were represented graphically, it’d be a roof made to last a hundred years, constructed from the most expensive and durable stainless steel, on top of a straw house with jelly foundations. Then every few months, when a bit more of the house drops off, the government just spends more on the roof.
So why is the government spending 5 billion dollars over 10 years to keeping the car industry going? One argument is that a fair chunk of that money is being used to develop greener cars. If anybody was really interested in a greener form of transport, they’d just build bikes. With 5 billion to spend, everyone in Australia could get one.
Saving the auto industry is all about jobs. As jobs get votes, and politicians like votes much more than they like be economically responsible. It’s not the government’s responsibility to give everyone a job. That’s communism.
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The sad reality is we can expect many more closures similar to the collapse this morning of Australian car manufacturing supplier Autodom.
And in an industry that thrives on having parts delivered “just in time”, the impacts of such closures are going to get worse, not better.
As the number of Australian-made cars declines, so too do the chances for local suppliers to survive. Most of the 300 or so companies that make the 5000 or so parts that make up a new car must sell to all three local makers – Holden, Ford and Toyota – just to stay in business.
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Reports of the big Australian-built car’s death are – as Twain quipped – an exaggeration, or at least grossly premature. But there’s no denying the patient has gone from just looking a bit poorly to possibly needing palliative care.
The little Mazda3 trounced the 5-year top seller Holden Commodore in 2011, after the big boy slid about 12 per cent in sales. And the Ford Falcon fared worse with a 36 per cent slump. Between them, they hold 81 per cent of the large car segment, with the Aussie-built Toyota Aurion owning 12 per cent – but also diving 24 per cent in sales last year.
The large car segment overall was down 21 per cent in 2011, echoing three years of slides that have seen sales move from 139,677 in 2007 to 78,077 last year.
So over that time, the pulse has dropped 44 per cent. It’s fading. And only the most evasive physician would pretend otherwise. Tell ‘em, doc – they can take it.
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Australian governments have a long history of offering taxpayers’ money to private businesses in an effort to get them to come or stay. Liberal and Country League Premier Tom Playford elevated it to an art form after 1945 when he set out to build an industrial and manufacturing base in South Australia. Tax holidays, grants, cheap land, incentives, and cheap public housing for the industrial workforces through the Housing Trust.
In fact, the use of public money to convince car-makers goes back even further. My attention was drawn to a question asked in the South Australian Legislative Council on 14 August 1935. The LCL government was asked “what steps has the government taken to encourage General Motors Holdens Limited to remain in South Australia?” The answer: “The government is much concerned about the possibility of losing that industry and is doing everything possible to retain it”.
That question and answer could describe the current decision-making process concerning both GMH and Ford. The Federal, Victorian and South Australian governments are embroiled in trying to work out just how much taxpayer money will be needed to keep both functioning in Australia.
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It’s not often you hear an apology from a big corporation that sounds like it really means it, but Jenny Craig’s statement last night that it “badly misjudged public perception of Kyle Sandilands” sounds genuine enough - perhaps because it’s so bloody obvious.
Hmmm, brand heavily skewed towards women with body issues, linked to the “fat slag” king, what could possibly go wrong?
The language marketing departments use when one of the stars they throw millions of dollars at to flog their products step out of line, is often at best hilarious, at worst mealy-mouthed.
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