It fought valiantly for its survival, but in the end it was not enough. Holden has announced that it will cease as a brand altogether, winding down sales, design and engineering efforts in Australia and New Zealand by 2021. The news comes just three years after it shut down its manufacturing operations in 2017.

Parent company General Motors made the “difficult decision” after implementing and considering numerous options to maintain and turn around the brand, according to GM International Operations senior vice president Julien Blissett. “Over recent years, as the industry underwent significant change globally and locally, we implemented a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business.”

In a detailed analysis of the investment required to make Holden competitive beyond the current generation of products, several factors counted against it. This included the fragmented right-hand drive markets, the economics to support the growth of the brand, and the ability to deliver an appropriate return on investment.

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

Holden’s interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina said that it was important to work with all stakeholders to deliver a “dignified and respectful” wind-down, given its 160-year history. “We understand the impact of this decision on our people, our customers, our dealers and our partners – and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful transition.”

The VF Commodore was the last Holden to be built in Australia

Holden said that it will honour all warranties and servicing offers made at the time of the sale, and that it will provide servicing and space parts for at least 10 years, through its aftersales networks. It will also handle any recalls and safety-related issues if they arise, as required, working with governmental agencies.

Impacted employees will also be provided separation packages and employment transition support, while dealers will be offered appropriate transition arrangements – including the opportunity to continue as authorised service outlets to support Holden customers.

Australian motoring portal CarAdvice detailed the shocking move – according to a high-ranking GM official, the “agonising decision” was only made in Detroit in the past 48 hours, adding that the company had every intention of reviving the brand following the end of local manufacturing.

The recent introduction of the Acadia and Equinox SUVs, based on GMC and Chevrolet’s United States models respectively, as well as the planned launch of the Chevrolet Corvette, is apparently evidence of this. “Our intention was to turn around the brand… there is zero blame to the local team,” the source said. “This decision [about Holden] is all about investment priorities.”

The Colorado will also be discontinued as part of the sale of GM Thailand

General Motors has been retreating from unprofitable markets for some time – including in Europe, where the company sold its Opel and Vauxhall brands to the PSA Group in 2017. The company has also been pulling Chevy from right-hand drive markets, including the United Kingdom, Japan, India and South Africa. Within the Southeast Asian region, the brand has also recently exited the Vietnamese and Indonesian markets.

As such, the company has apparently decided that it would be unprofitable to develop new RHD models for three comparatively small markets, including Thailand. In fact, GM also announced today that will sell its operations in the Land of Smiles to Great Wall Motors, thereby scuppering any plans for a next-generation Colorado pick-up – Holden’s bestselling model.

General Motors still plans to continue offering specialty vehicles in Australia and New Zealand, with CarAdvice reporting that the Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) sub-brand could be turned into the imaginatively-named General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV). This company already imports the Chevrolet Camaro and Silverado, converted to right-hand drive.

The publication said that the brand could add the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, as well as Cadillac SUVs that share their underpinnings. The forthcoming electric Hummer pick-up could also be converted to RHD and sold there further down the road, while the introduction of the Corvette should continue unaffected. Unlike those other models, the sports car will come in RHD form directly from the factory, as the switch to a mid-engined layout will ease the conversion.