Tony O'Kane | May 21, 2009

General Motors is reportedly nutting out the details of how it will reorganise its operations to restore profitability, and one of the ideas that's presently on the table is to increase the number of imports of Mexican and Asian-made GM products into the USA.

Such a move would, of course, result in massive plant closures and layoffs in the United States, but with one of GM's biggest burdens being worker pension plans, shifting the majority of its production to low wage countries like China and Mexico makes financial sense.

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Low-cost countries like Japan may also get a look in, but at this stage there's no word on what GM's revised viability plan (which is due on June 1) may hold in store for its Australian arm, Holden.

Although it received critical acclaim from the American automotive media, the Commodore-based Pontiac G8 simply could not weather the financial storm that's been pummeling the country for the past few years. As a result sales nosedived, Holden shut down the G8 production line at its South Australian plant and a key export market potentially worth AU$1 billion a year was lost

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TMR spoke to Holden's media manager Scott Whiffin to see whether there was any potential for a resumption in Holden exports to the US, but the official line is that nothing has been locked in yet.

"We're looking at every opportunity that we can find," said Mr Whiffin.

"I'm not keen to specify precisely what they are, But there's no doubt that we're out there actively looking for opportunities right now."

As for what effect GM's immininent restructuring may have on Holden's existing exports to the Middle East and South Korea, there's been no decision made as yet to cut Holden's presence in those markets below its present level.

"I think we're operating in a world where there aren't too many guarantees but Holden continues to export vehicles to a number of markets around the world, just as we continue to look for new opportunities."

While it seems that it's still business as usual for Holden, its long-term future appears to be in a state of flux. The company has, however, refuted claims that it would be cast off by GM and sold to a Chinese conglomerate, and Commodore/G8 exports to the US may even resume under a police-only program.

The Astra will be replaced by the Cruze hatch next year and the Holden Volt will also make its way here eventually, but the future of the Insignia - indeed, the future of all European imports into this country - is very much up in the air.

We'll be monitoring Holden's situation closely, and anticipate we'll know more when GM hands in its latest viability plan to the US government at the start of next month. Stay tuned.

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