Australian car manufacturers are facing the same problems as their American counterparts. General Motors-owned Holden announced it will deep-six the Commodore (pictured) and the Astra in 2020 to focus exclusively on trucks and SUVs. Neither nameplate will spawn a direct replacement.
The announcement hardly comes as a surprise. Holden's current Commodore is a badge-engineered version of the Opel Insignia, which also spawned the second-generation Regal that Buick will retire in the coming months, and it didn't catch on in Australia. The last-generation Commodore was a big, rear-wheel drive sedan available with a V8 engine; it was available in the United States as the Chevrolet SS. Its replacement is smaller, front-wheel drive, and doesn't offer an eight-cylinder option. The smaller Astra available as a sedan and a hatchback is also a badge-engineered Opel.
Opel is no longer part of General Motors, it joined Peugeot parent company PSA Group in 2017, and the two giants are eager to go their separate ways, especially as the latter gets ready to form an alliance with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Holden also pointed that, like in the United States, the sedan segment is free-falling and hatchbacks were never hugely popular to begin with.
The best-selling car in Australia is the Toyota Hilux, a Tacoma-sized pickup sold in dozens of global markets, and that speaks volumes. The large car segment the Commodore has historically competed in peaked in 1998 with 217,882 sales. That figure is expected to drop to about 8,700 in 2019. Motorist preferences have clearly shifted towards high-riding models, though it's necessary to point out the segment truly began collapsing when Ford and General Motors stopped offering models specifically developed for and made in Australia in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
By the end of 2020, the Holden portfolio will consist of Acadia, the Trailblazer, the Equinox, the Trax, and the Colorado. Those nameplates will likely ring a bell; they're all related to models sold in the United States, though Australia's Colorado is different from ours. Australian enthusiasts seeking a V8 will have the option of ordering the eighth-generation, mid-engined Corvette in right-hand drive form.