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Holden airfreights wheels, factory 25km away misses out

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    2013 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline wheel.

New Holden Commodore flying out the door but wheel orders bypass local supplier.

Holden is urgently airfreighting wheels from the US to Australia to meet a spike in demand for the new Commodore — even though there is a former wheel supplier just 25km from its factory gate.

About 12,000 wheels are being flown 13,000km across the Pacific at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, based on quotes from the airfreight industry, because demand for the most expensive version of the new Commodore is better than expected.

It is a temporary measure to try to shorten the three-month waiting list for Holden’s flagship sedan, the $50,000 V8-powered SS-V Redline. The airfreight charges equate to about $833 per car but there will be no extra cost to buyers because Holden will absorb the fee in the selling price.

Holden’s factory in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth stopped sourcing wheels from ROH in the nearby suburb of Woodville North in 2005, after General Motors switched to global suppliers in China and Taiwan.

Ford has been importing wheels from China, Taiwan and India since 2004.

Only Toyota’s factory in the Melbourne suburb of Altona, which makes the Camry and Aurion sedans, continues to source all its wheels from Australia’s ROH.

“Surely Australian taxpayers’ money should be spent in Australia,” said ROH general manager Bill Davidson.

When asked if there should be a minimum local content requirement for Australian-made cars, Mr Davidson said: “It would help the economy if there were more local content in Australian-made cars. Toyota should be applauded for standing by its Australian suppliers and working with them to remain sustainable.”

Holden is about to start negotiating with the new Federal Government about further funding to secure future models.

The Holden Commodore and Cruze have the least local content among the three Australian car makers. Holden had received a pledge for $275 million from State and Federal Governments in March 2012 but says market conditions have “changed significantly since then”.

The first new Commodore in seven years has had a 15 per cent boost in sales in its first two months. It’s a far cry from Holden’s halcyon days in the late 1990s when the market was less competitive and it sold three times as many Commodores.

But the former favourite is now well inside the top five sellers list having struggled to stay inside the top 10 earlier this year. “We’re happy with demand for the new Commodore; sales are strong and in line with our internal targets,” said Holden’s executive director of sales and marketing, Philip Brook.

“Particularly pleasing is the demand for our high-end models (which) currently account for around 42 per cent of our dealer order bank and we’ve had to airfreight parts in to try and keep up with demand.”

At its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s when ROH supplied Holden, Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi car factories, the wheel maker employed 470 workers.

Today ROH employs 154 workers at its Woodville North facility.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 27 comments

  • Interesting article. Not too worried about the content of the cars as the labour that makes the cars and the supply companies that do actually supply aussie parts. With a Commodore clearly infront of anything out of Korea ( has anyone really driven a hyundai lately that hasnt felt like a coke tim on wheels) or Japan for that matter when it comes to quality and performance then lets keep the aussie ball rolling.

    dave Posted on 24 October 2013 11:55am
  • Holden means lot to Korea. Holden the Australian company. Lucky they have a good marketing division. Holden owned by Americans, bludging off Australians and sourcing around 50% of the parts for the Commodore offshore and around 65% of the parts for the Cruze which will spend more time on the back of a tilt tray than it will in garage

    Let GM rot of Mt Panorama Posted on 24 October 2013 8:39am
  • Hi great article and thanks for the awareness, not only do we have good suppliers of parts for our ailing auto industry but once and not too long ago we had even more including drive train suppliers and even our own advanced engine builders, but we or our government looked away then and what will stop them from doing the same again.

    Hendy of Australia Posted on 22 October 2013 11:58am
  • Time to stop forcing taxpayers supporting the ailing car industry, and high time to start steering Australia away from the dark ages. The Germans, Japanese, Koreans all make cars superior to Holdens, and soon China will join the former. The world might need cars, but it's becoming too competitive and unviable for backwards nations like Australia to compete on that arena, we should be spending taxpayers money on an aqueduct from Australia's north to supply water to more temperate areas further south for irrigating farms, we should be growing food for export. Food inflation is a major concern around the world, whilst cars are getting cheaper, food's getting more expensive, so why don't we shift our focus to where the demand and profit is?

    Roger of Gold Coast Posted on 19 October 2013 8:06pm
  • Aussie made with imported parts, the meatheads will still gloat that the aussie muscle car is alive and well (albeit on a taxpayer funded resuscitator). Well done to Toyota. Does the "new commydore look different from the last?

    bo of brissy Posted on 19 October 2013 6:32pm
  • has anyone considered that perhaps the local manufacturer would not be able to meet with Holden's immediate needs?

    nick of sydney Posted on 18 October 2013 9:44am
  • So many uninformed OPINIONS on here in relation to the Australian car industry. What a load of claptrap.

    Bernie Simmons of Parafield Gardens Posted on 16 October 2013 12:35pm
  • Do whatever makes you a profit car maker. But do not pass off Aussie made cars when parts come from all over, and do not spend our tax dollars to do it and then tell us your saving us money. good on Toyota for trying to stay in touch with our economy

    Shaun of Busselton wa Posted on 14 October 2013 2:31am
  • Google "wheel dumping" and you will find out the main reason this is happening... Chinese wheel manufacturers get a rebate\incentive from the Chinese government for wheels that they export overseas, this allows them to be able to sell their wheels at near or even less than what it costs to make them... Now ask how many other industries China does this for??? **Note the Australian government has recently added a tax to any wheels being imported from China, it is a variable tax as high as 80-90% depending on the wheel supplier. YHI is one of the heaviest taxed as they were bringing in the largest volume from memory. Not sure if this tax applies to Car manufacturers though. I agree with what Ashley C said.

    Andrew B of Brisbane Posted on 12 October 2013 4:09pm
  • my new barina has been in holdens workshop 8 weeks and still not fixed. STAY AWAY FROM HOLDEN!

    jim Posted on 12 October 2013 11:26am
  • So the assumption must be made the wheels come from the USA normally by sea freight but to meet demand it was necessary for GMH to air freight. Unless the wheels were made under license in China and Taiwan. The US wheels will have a design copyright or patent so ROH could not make them unless an agreement was in place. Did GMH approach ROH in the design phase for the provision of wheels? Probably not. If my tax money is going toward propping up a manufacturer and keeping people employed then I expect to see the maximum of it spent on Australian content as a condition of the grant and audited by the Commonwealth. Sending the money off-shore is not what I expect.

    Blindsided of Kenmore QLD Posted on 10 October 2013 3:39pm
  • Love the line ' no extra cost to buyers, as GM will absorb the costs associated etc., etc., ' The 'costs' are those being paid for & propped up by the Taxpayer, yet GM Australia [ aka: Holden ] seem to be able to find plenty to sponsor the NRL, whilst at the same time not using Aussie suppliers. If Toyota use ROH, why not the Taxpayer General ?

    Pensioner Extraordinaire of Maroochydore Posted on 10 October 2013 1:00pm
  • W We need to protect Holden as a truly Australian company before being brought out by GM. It's part of our Heritage. I agree that more needs to be done to ensure the local parts manufacturers are included in any support provided by the government, and the government needs to use Australian made cars in its fleets. It would help id more Australians bought more Holden’s too, rather than the over-priced, European show off mobiles which aren't made for Australian conditions, that seem so popular these days.

    Q77 of Australia Posted on 10 October 2013 10:30am
  • If only people realised how little Australian content there is in this German sourced piece of rubbish. The idea of the American company GM (the world's wealthiest motor company) holding the Australian Government to ransom instead of using their own millions to keep Holden going. You want a 2013 Holden, import a 2008 Opel and you actually getter a better and much safer car. More metal and better construction work.

    Darcy of Brisbane Posted on 10 October 2013 9:38am
  • Welcome to rampant consumerism (your present and future!)everyone, things like this will keep happening until we have nothing left to consume, you see it blatantly every time a new iPhone is released...people too stupid to see they don't need it but definitely stupid enough to pay the outrageous prices. It's just good business, get used to it, if we're welling to buy a bit they're willing to sell a bit, if only we knew how much profit is made on everything we buy, maybe people would see what a waste of mooney everything is these days

    Wilbur Smith of Brisbane Posted on 08 October 2013 12:30pm
  • A lot of supposition here. Was ROH approached to see if they could meet the needs of GMH? The thing that really gets my goat is companies like GMH crying poor mouth because they are losing market share to imported vehicles and then go and buy offshore themself. Doesn't that smack of hypocrisy?

    Gra of Country and proud of it Posted on 06 October 2013 5:55pm
  • Jeff of Bundaberg has it Right in fact this Govt ough to issue strong threats to GMHcojnserning ther $ 300 million Rudd threw atthem as another prop up .As though thetaxpayer subsidisin\g every Holden sold is not too much they are now extending it to USA workers to assist African born Obama fund mosques around the world/

    John SEIPP of Gympie Aust. 4570 Posted on 04 October 2013 11:00pm
  • I applaud Toyota but am extremely disappointed in Holden for NOT sourcing parts from local suppliers, especially when ROH are only a few kms down the road. Both State and Federal Governments should enforce "buy local" conditions on car manufacturers before (temporarily) propping them up with taxpayer funds. We all remember what happened with Mitsubishi.

    Kristi of Adelaide Posted on 04 October 2013 4:02pm
  • Unions want Australian workers on construction site well how about demanding Australian content from car builders Only trouble is the unions have pushed wages so high they have destroyed the market and now want the government to help

    Jeff of Bundaberg Posted on 03 October 2013 10:00am
  • I think if the government is putting in money then there should be some conditions attached like sourcing all items from Australian makers first then overseas, And this will have a 2 fold effect it helps Holden going and also helps smaller business going so more jobs than just Holden only which would have a greater impact with the money spent. To me its all about bang for your buck and at this time I don't see we are getting value for money and hate to think what happens latter on down the road.

    Richard of Sydney Posted on 02 October 2013 1:42pm
  • Okay...Maybe Holden should have purchased their wheels off ROH...probably without the maybe. But Michael, what you are saying does NOT make sense. Hyundai probably have 0% Australian input - more can be said for Holden!!! The problem is people like you - oh, they aren't supporting Australian manufacturers like they could so I'm going to buy a completely imported project. Smarty!!! :/:/:/:/

    Whatever Posted on 27 September 2013 5:08pm
  • So does ROH actually have the capability to produce the wheels? In the timeframe required, meeting the specs required? Will they be cheaper than the imported wheels even if they do? Lots of questions unanswered, sounds like only one side has given the story.

    asdf Posted on 27 September 2013 10:30am
  • Proves again Toyota are a model citizen when it comes to their commitment of manufacture in Australia... Just exported their Millionth car to the Middle East also... The other 2 are just sucking tac payers $$$ with no regard for returning the investment favour to the country and will just cut and run when the going gets tough... Ford has and Holden soon will....

    BUY LOCAL of Newcastle Posted on 26 September 2013 4:46pm
  • If parts are sourced from overseas that are available locally, then Holden or any of the three local car manufacturers should not receive any funding from the government. Simple really.

    Steve of New England NSW Posted on 26 September 2013 3:16pm
  • Typical of Big Business today. Absolutely disgraceful act by Holden to ignore such an iconic company as ROH when sourcing product AND then expect the Australian Taxpayer via the Government to financially support an American (purporting to be AUSTRALIAN) company! As a long standing supporter of the previously 85% Australian sourced company, I am increasingly realising that my current VE Series 2 SS (of 2 Holden's & 6 Commodores) may be the last Holden that I buy. After having closely looked at the offerings from Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai, my next vehicle will most probably still be adorned with a "H" logo, unfortunately it will stand for Hyundai and NOT Holden!!!!

    Michael Morris of Wodonga Posted on 26 September 2013 2:15pm
  • It would be great if we could use locally sourced parts, but we simply don't have the volume (of locally built cars) anymore for it to be cost effective (Look at the landslide of large car sales). If we used more expensive local parts, the quality would be better, but the profit goes down and manufacturers lose even more money, and need bigger handouts.

    Ashley C of Bendigo, VIC Posted on 26 September 2013 10:23am
  • Well they need wheels and they need them urgently. Can't expect them to bend over for a local factory, the process will take too long to get them spinning up the same wheels as whats needed.

    Alexander Robertson of Melbourne Posted on 26 September 2013 10:20am
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