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GM to retire iconic Australian Holden brand

US car giant General Motors is scaling back its operations from unprofitable markets, outside of the United States and the latest car brand to be axed is Australia's Holden brand.

GM International Senior Vice President, Julian Blissett made the announcement on Monday.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) GM INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, JULIAN BLISSETT, SAYING:

"And I can confirm to you that GM has taken the very difficult decision to wind down Holden operations in Australia and New Zealand by 2021. This was an agonising decision for us and one that we didn't make lightly or easily. The wind down will take place through this year and will impact all functions with the exception of aftersales."

The first Holden car rolled off the production line in 1948 and in its heyday the company employed thousands.

But it ceased production three years ago and cut jobs to around 600.

For many the news was an emotional moment and Australia's industry minister Karen Andrews captured the mood with her own story:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, KAREN ANDREWS, SAYING:

"My first car was a Holden Torana that I bought from from grandfather, so like many Australians Holden has a place in my personal history and Holden is a manufacturer, it is a vehicle that is near and dear to many Australian hearts. So it's disappointing that this is the end of an era."

GM also announced that China's Great Wall Motors will buy its Thailand car manufacturing plant.

GM says the restructuring of its global business will produce profit margins and represent a "$2 billion" improvement from two years ago.

Back in Australia -the news was hard for the government to swallow.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, KAREN ANDREWS, SAYING:

"It was only a couple of hours ago that the government was advised that Holden was walking away from Australia and Australians. This is a very disappointing outcome, it's disappointing because there will be several hundred workers that are about to lose their jobs because of this decision."

GM said they would continue to support existing Holden customers with spare parts, servicing for at least the next 10 years.