We had a short taste of Australia’s Holden Commodore here in the States where it was sold as the Pontiac G8. But back home down under, the Commodore was Australia’s best-selling car for decades, up until 2011 when a little Japanese compact car known as the Mazda3 came along.
The Commodore’s 15-year reign of Australia’s sales charts has just been taken away by the Mazda3 compact in a tight sales battle that saw both cars switch places throughout 2011. The 3, however, came out as the winner, as more consumers down under are shifting towards fuel-efficient compact cars. For further proof of this trend, the Toyota Corolla also saw record sales in 2011, and was crowned the third best-selling car in Australia behind the Commodore.
“A fully imported car hasn’t led the Australian new-car market for as far back as I can remember,” veteran automotive journalist, historian and author, Pedr Davis, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
In total, Mazda sold more than 41,000 Mazda3s in 2011. Holden won’t release official sales figures until later this week, but it’s estimated that about 40,000 Commodores were sold, less than half the 94,000 peak it reached in 1998.
“It’s nice bragging rights to say ’16 years in a row’ … but Commodore’s a brand we’re very proud of and also very protective of,” Holden’s director of sales Philip Brook said to media last month. “And it’s got a longer-term future than just December  … it’s got to keep going for many years to come.”
Brook also said that Holden wouldn’t slash prices in order to maintain its sales dominance.
“The [Commodore's] got a future and we’ve got to make sure it has a future,” said Brook. “It’s probably the most precious thing we have, the Commodore brand, and we’re very conscious of that.”
Holden’s future, however, appears to be more focused on the Cruze compact car. Company executives have stated that it plans to build 5,000 fewer Commodores in 2012 while increasing production of the Cruze, which has moved production from Korea to a factory in Australia.