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General Motors blames 'perfect storm' for stopping Holden production in Australia

GM blamed high costs, a strong currency and intense competition for its decision, which marks the end of an era in Australia.

Gm holden australiaEnlarge
About 2,900 jobs will be lost when General Motors closes its Australian manufacturing plants, including this one in South Australia. (Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

It's the end of the road for General Motors in Australia. 

GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson on Wednesday blamed a “perfect storm of negative influences” for the auto giant’s decision to stop making Holden cars and engines Down Under.

Pointing to high costs, a strong currency and intense competition, Akerson said GM would close its plants in South Australia and Victoria by the end of 2017, resulting in the loss of about 2,900 jobs.

"The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country, including the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world," Akerson said in a statement.

The announcement came as GM revealed Akerson will be replaced by Mary Barra in January, making her the first female head of a major US automaker.

More from GlobalPost: Mary Barra named General Motors CEO

The move marks the end of an era for GM’s Holden subsidiary, which has been making cars in Australia for 65 years.

"This is a difficult day for Australians, and a difficult day in particular for the Holden employees," Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss told parliament.

"Holden has been an iconic national brand for Australians -- a part of our heritage. It has meant a great deal to Australians of several generations."

The decision will deliver a significant -- and potentially fatal -- blow to the Australian auto industry, which includes around 150 parts and component suppliers employing more than 40,000 people.

Ford announced in May that it was terminating production in the country in 2016 and Toyota, the only other auto manufacturer in Australia, has said it is reassessing its future Down Under.

Mitsubishi Motor Corp closed its doors in 2008. 

"This will place unprecedented pressure on the local supplier network and our ability to build cars in Australia," Toyota Australia said.

Toyota employs 4,000 people in Australia. 

The announcement couldn't come at a worse time for the Australian government, which is already grappling with weaker economic growth as a decade-long mining investment boom slows.  
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/131211/general-motors-stops-holden-production-australia