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General Motors has confirmed that it will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017.

Holden, the company’s Australian brand, blames high manufacturing costs and a small domestic market for the move, which will compromise more than 2,900 jobs in the company.

GM’s Chief Executiove, Dan Akerson, says “”The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country, This includes 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.”

The news follows an announcement by Ford last May that it will also cease production in Australia by 2016, leaving Toyota as the only carmaker in the country.

Holden started life in 1852 as a saddlers, eventually evolving into car repairs, motorcycle sidecar manufacture, then full-scale car body production. In 1924, it became Australia’s exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM.

Having dominated the country’s car market during the fifties and sixties, it managed to stay in rude health during the seventies and eighties, despite competition from Ford and Japanese manufacturers in the seventies and eighties. In 1998 it became a subsidiary of GM, and has struggled to maintain its market share since.

Fans of the brand are famous for their fierce rivalry with Ford enthusiasts - from SS Commodores and XR8 Falcons battling on the street to the war played out in the V8 Supercar race at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama, conflict between the factions has been responsible for its fair share of black eyes.

Closure of the company will also see an end to Holden Special Vehicles, the manufacturer’s tuning arm that works closely with its European counterpart, VXR. Established in 1987, its main focus has been motorsport and modifying Commodore saloons, and in April this year an HSV-tuned VF Ute set a lap record of the Nürburgring for utility, pickup, and commercial vehicles.

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