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Holden’s Cruze sales missile

Cruzy: Holden’s Cruze hatch has give the small car a boost, with sales now outstripping current supply.

Dealer demand for Holden’s Cruze indicates good times ahead for local small car

23 Feb 2012

GM HOLDEN might have to wait months to know the real sales running rate of its successful Cruze small car, as demand has been outstripping Cruze range supply since the five-door hatchback arrived late last year to join the existing sedan.

In a fillip for the workers and management of the company’s manufacturing operation in South Australia, Holden dealer orders for Cruze last month exceeded the factory’s usual maximum Cruze output of more than 3000 units a month.

Holden retailed 2445 Cruze sedans and hatches last month – a January record for the nameplate but less than it achieved in most months last year – but the dealer order bank of about double that would indicate that much bigger volumes could be in store.

Because many Cruze parts – including the entire driveline – come from suppliers in South Korea, the factory can’t easily turn up the production line to adjust supply to demand.

Coupled with the usual summer factory shutdown, some in-demand Cruze variants are thin on the ground.

13 center imageLeft: Holden Cruze wagon. Below: Commodore wagon and sedan.

However, Holden managers believe the supply-demand situation will equalise within a few months, giving them an indication of where Holden’s new biggest seller – which took the Holden brand sales crown from the long-time champion Commodore large car last month – really sits in the sales pecking order.

The best sales month for Cruze since it was launched in Australia in June 2009 was 3387 in June last year.

January’s Cruze sales score of 2445 placed it third in the small-car segment sales rankings for the month, behind the new top-selling car in the country, the Mazda3 (4045 sales), and Toyota’s long-time best-seller, the Corolla (3383).

As fleet buyers come back into the market after their summer break, the Cruze volumes can be expected to rise, especially from those with a buy-Australian policy.

Holden executives do not expect the Commodore to ever regain its sales crown from Cruze, which many pundits believe could end up as Australia’s top-selling car when it builds up a full head of steam.

GM Holden chairman and managing director told journalists at this week’s Commodore LPG launch that the days of Commodore’s domination of the market – or any car, for that matter – were passed.

“Those days are gone,” he said. “That’s OK – we are fine with that.”

Mr Devereux said Holden would not discount the Commodore to chase sales, instead looking to deliver the best sales outcome for all of its models – the Commodore, Cruze, Barina and so on.

He said Holden was proud that 60 per cent of all cars sold by Holden came out of its local factory in Elizabeth, pumping out 64,000 Commodores, Caprices, Utes and Cruzes last year.

“We are not building fewer cars here,” he said, taking a swipe at reporting of Holden’s recently announced production changes at Elizabeth, which is set to shift from two shifts to one in the next few months, but with most workers moving onto the morning shift to handle a faster line speed.

Mr Devereux told GoAuto that one of the pleasing aspects of Cruze sales was the high proportion of upper-spec models, such as CDX, SRi and SRi-V.

The Cruze line-up will be expanded in about a year with the arrival of the new wagon that will be revealed publicly on the Chevrolet stand at the Geneva motor show next month.

The vehicle will be imported from GM Korea, at least initially, but Holden has not ruled out building it here alongside the sedan and hatch if sales warrant it.

Mr Devereux was non-committal about the chances of local wagon production, saying he was not sure demand would be there.

However, he left the door open, saying: “We have the capability to build three body styles in Cruze at Elizabeth.”

A new generation of Cruze is expected in about 2016, and that model is the subject of at least part of the Holden-federal government negotiations over GM’s request for taxpayer co-investment.

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