Despite the fact that Holden‘s operations will be leaving Australia shortly, that doesn’t spell the end of the Holden brand. If anything, General Motors has been moving forward with plans for the next-generation Commodore for over four years already.
News Corp Australia has revealed that one of Holden’s senior engineers has been based in Germany working on the next Commodore. Marinos Panayiotou, a Holden employee since 2001, has been working at Opel as the Lead Program Manager, which means he is the one who handles the vehicle from inception to production.
Holden would not confirm Panayiotou’s assignment, but his profile on LinkedIn shows he has been working in Germany since November 2010.
Of course, the future Commodore will be a rebadged Opel Insignia, but Panayiotou’s involvement will certainly help give the Commodore local flavor. Australians will get their first glimpse of the new Commodore sometime in 2016; it will hit dealerships a year later and be sold concurrently with the older, locally-made model Commodore for a short time as local manufacturing winds down through 2017. The biggest difference between the two will be that the German version will be front-wheel-drive with no V8.
“[Opels] will be about one third of the portfolio of Holden; it is an important export business for us,” says Opel’s Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, adding that Holden was part of Opel’s plan to return to profitability.