HSV fans ignore large car sales slump

13 June 2012
, CarsGuide
HSV fans ignore large car sales slump
Company boss Phil Harding admits that HSV is down from its peak.

Holden Special Vehicles reports a 'business as usual' result through the first five months of the year, with 240 deliveries in May alone.

HSV alone is now selling around one-fifth the total Ford Falcon volume, according to company boss Phil Harding.

"Big cars are not dead. Ours aren't, that's for sure," Harding confirms to Carsguide.

"I'm talking it up, but I'm talking facts. Based on VFacts (sales results), we're around 20 per cent of Falcon sales. Which is not bad, is it?"

Harding has been pushing the upside of the HSV story for more than a year, refuting claims that his cars have been dragged down by the Falcon slide which has now also spread - to some degree - across to Holden and the Commodore.

"It does wind me up. Journalists tend to roll everyone into the large-car class. "But the large car segment is made up from a basic Falcon through to us. I don't like being included in that group. We've carved out our own niche," he says.

Harding admits that HSV is down from its peak, but says the long-term business case is built around the current sales volume.

"We all went on a high with the launch of VE. We have settled back, but in terms of our long term retail sales we're happy with where we are against our history."

He refuses to answer any questions about HSV's plans for the VF Commodore, which will be ready for the road late in the second quarter of 2013, or anything that would stretch the brand beyond Commodore. There has been development work on a hot HSV version of the Cruze, but nothing that's remotely ready yet for production or sales. But Harding will, reluctantly, talk about the latest numbers.

"We did 240 cars in May. But I won't comment again until the end of the year," he says bluntly. "Clubsport is our best seller. Equal second are Maloo and GTS." And he wants to put the picture into clearer focus. "If you look at the sedan market, it's between 70,000 and 100,000 cars a year. We have around 19 per cent retail share. That probably makes us a great revenue source for the the government."

Most importantly, Harding says HSV is trading solidly in the black and generating the money necessary for its future programs including its work on the VF. "I wouldn't be in it if it wasn't profitable," he says.

"If you look at going though from VX to VZ, the cost of doing a facelift of a new car was the price a few years ago for doing a new car. The R&D spend now is quite different. "But we did our GFC savings about two-and-a-half years ago. We're stronger than we've ever been as a business for investing in our future."