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GM to scrap Holden brand in Aust and NZ

Global automotive giant General Motors has delivered the final death blow to Holden, with the brand synonymous with Australian motoring to shut down by 2021.

After closing the company's local manufacturing operations in 2017, GM will "retire" Holden in both Australia and New Zealand, axing about 600 jobs.

The decision has angered Prime Minister Scott Morrison who says GM took billions of dollars of government money only to let the Holden brand wither.

Holden has suffered recent crumbling domestic sales, while GM also announced plans to shut a car plant in Thailand and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from the market there.

Together the two shutdowns will cost the US multinational more than $1 billion.

GM has pledged to provide "fair" redundancy packages for its staff, with most to be gone by the end of June.

About 200 will remain in mainly after sales roles.

It will also offer compensation to its 185 dealers in Australia and 31 dealers in NZ as they transition to other brands or close.

Holden interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina described the shutdown decision as "agonising" but said the company had chased down "every conceivable option" to keep the brand afloat.

"Every strategy, every plan, we looked under every rock," he said on Monday.

"We've tried to find a way to defy gravity.

"But the hard truth was there was just no way to come up with a plan that would support a competitive and growing and flourishing Holden and also provide a sufficient return to our investors.

"I'm personally convinced GM tried everything to keep Holden going."

Reaction from the federal government was scathing with Industry Minister Karen Andrews declaring it unacceptable for the company to make the announcement without consultation.

Mr Morrison said he was disappointed and angry but not surprised.

"Australian taxpayers put millions into this into multinational company and they let the brand just wither away on their watch," Mr Morrison said.

But the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union said the government had failed to back the vehicle manufacturing industry.

"This is the end point of the Abbott and Hockey government goading Holden to leave in 2013," union representative Donherra Walmsley said on Monday.

"This conservative government ... have consistently refused to support Australian manufacturing and we are seeing the result of that, with over 600 jobs being lost at Holden."

GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said the decision to close down Holden's operations was based on the company's global priorities.

"After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritise the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally," he said.

"This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team."

Holden said it still had thousands of cars available for sale across the country or in the "pipeline" and would continue to trade until the last car was sold.

It would also offer all its current dealers the opportunity to continue as authorised service outlets for Holden customers with an estimated 1.6 million Holdens currently on the road.

GM will also honour all warranties and provide servicing and spare parts for all Holden vehicles for at least 10 years.

In the Australian market last year, Holden sales fell by almost 29 per cent to just 43,176 vehicles, in a total market down just eight per cent.

© AAP 2020