Guido Dumarey, a Belgian entrepreneur who currently builds automatic transmissions for General Motors and Holden, officially confirmed the rumors with Motoring: he wants to purchase the Elizabeth factory, and continue producing a rear-wheel drive Commodore.
“Everything is planned. The next step is to inform all the parties with the right plan, and it happens next year. The announcement is that they will close in the end of 2017. In the first six months of next year we must work very hard to find solutions. Two thousand and sixteen is the key year. After ’16 we must not think about it, because all the programs have started to stop and it’s too late,” he said in an interview.
Not only does Dumarey want to save the Elizabeth factory and the underpinnings as many have come to know it, he wants to create a legitimate business out of it. He believes the Zeta platform could be used to develop a range of rear- and all-wheel drive vehicles for local sale and export sale across the globe.
“The auto industry in Australia is in fact a premium auto industry, a rear-wheel drive industry,” Dumarey said.
“To me rear-wheel drive is premium. I think with the platform you have from Zeta… It’s the perfect platform.”
Dumarey has not officially approached GM or Holden with a bid, rather, he has taken the time to carefully plan his moves, working for political support in Australia for such his bid to be successful. He must obtain licensing rights for the Zeta platform and tooling, and his vehicles could not be called Commodore.
It wouldn’t be the first time Dumarey turned a floundering operation into a flourishing one. The entrepreneur previously purchased the GM Strasbourg plant, which was scheduled to close in 2014 and shed 1,000 jobs.
Dumarey secured licensing to develop the 6L40 and 45 automatic transmissions, and the plant is now ready to add an additional 350 employees and is preparing to build he 8HP50 automatic transmission for ZF. BMW is now its biggest customer.
Zeta could be a case of die another day in 2016. We’ll have to wait and see.