Holden NZ trumps home office for Malibu exit

Three years on from launch, Holden has admitted defeat with the Malibu.


FOR once Australia has taken the back seat to New Zealand is respect to a determination by Holden to drop one of its poor performers.

Peter Keley, a former head of Holden New Zealand who is now the brand’s Melbourne-domiciled executive sales director, last week officially imparted that the Malibu is now on the way out of the GM Australia lineup.

The decision has been made because the model seems to have been as much of a sales dud as the car it replaced in 2013, the Epica, with sales have decreased markedly over the past 18 months.

Malibu’s increasing impotency was an inevitability, perhaps, given that the medium sedan market has been especially savaged by the consumer swing to crossovers and sports utilities – although the hurt has been felt more by the fringe dwellers than the big gun Ford Mondeo, Toyota Camry and Mazda6.

But it was ironic, too, since Malibu was touted on release as a “new beginning” after it divested the Epica. Both lines came to us from South Korea but whereas Epica was based off a discontinued Daewoo, Malibu was a bone fide Chevrolet global product.

With Holden Australia making clear that Malibu was now in runout, we asked Holden here what status it had locally and was told that, in fact, the car has not been imported since April and that stocks on this side of the Tasman were all but exhausted.

“There might be a couple left, but that would be it. The last shipment was months ago,” a Holden spokesman said.

He also discounted possibility that Australia might try to shift its own remnant count across the Tasman as a quick fix.

Keley has explained that Holden is not permanently abdicating this category. It sees the four-cylinder versions of the next-generation Commodore, which launches at the end of next year, as being perfect for that role. Holden’s next Commodore will deliver with 2.0-litre petrol and diesel choices – the same options that Malibu ran with, in two levels of specification, from $42,900 through to $48,400 at release.

In comment to Australian media, Keley offered: “At the end of the day we want to focus on fewer products and focus the energy and resources onto selling a group of higher volume products. Malibu filled its position within the range but it’s time to move on.

“We’ll sell the vehicle out progressively for the balance of this year and early next year.”