While there’s no doubt a number of outside factors led to the demise of Holden manufacturing, many continue to point fingers at General Motors itself. First, Peter Hanenberger spoke out and slammed GM’s mismanagement of the brand in the mid- and late-2000s. Now, we know Holden had a secret SUV program in the works, and back in the United States, GM killed it.
The automaker said it would build the proposed SUV on a North American platform, rather than the Zeta architecture, which engineers designed and developed to underpin numerous GM vehicles from SUVs to Cadillac sedans. Motoring reports GM never built the SUV, and former Holden employees back up the report.
Zeta’s global aspirations tanked when GM entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy and numerous programs were axed. However, Holden insiders say the SUV was proposed after the Ford Territory SUV boomed with success in 2004.
“Ford made a really good decision around Territory … We looked at cars exactly like that way back on Zeta and the GM leadership at the time said no. They said ‘we can do these better and more efficiently because they are the types of cars we do, off North American architectures rather than the Zeta architecture,” former Holden advanced vehicle design chief Mark Sheridan said.
When asked if GM followed through on its promise to build the vehicle on a different platform, he shook his head.
The report states the death of the Zeta-based SUV embodied the difficulties Holden had in sourcing SUVs for its portfolio. Today, crossovers and SUVs regularly outsell passenger cars. Many believe the Zeta SUV could have kept Holden manufacturing alive as the volumes increased at the Elizabeth factory. In total, Sheridan said GM planned 15 global Zeta-platform applications.
“If [the SUV] had been allied with the Zeta architecture or something that we manufactured in Adelaide, then Adelaide wouldn’t have had the volume issues and the productivity issues and the cost issues it had.”