Alan Batey, chair and managing director of Holden, recently indicated that a hybrid Holden Commodore was not a high priority and would not be seen before 2013, although he was notably tight-lipped about development plans in the interim. Holden, a subsidiary of GM since 1931, heads The General’s vehicle operations in Australia. The announcement comes as Toyota prepares to launch its locally-made Camry Hybrid in the next couple of weeks. The news represents a reversal of previous statements by Nick Reilly, GM’s Asia Pacific division president. In May 2008, Mr. Reilly indicated,
That [Commodore] could be one of the first hybrids you see and I would put a time frame on that of a couple of years.
A few months later, Mark Reuss, Mr. Batey’s predecessor (and now president of GM North America), suggested that Mr. Reilly had overstated the timeframe of a hybrid Commodore. He hinted that Holden’s priorities lay elsewhere, and that the marque was exploring alternatives like LPG, CNG, E85, and diesel to find a strategy that made more sense from the perspective of consumers’ pocketbooks.
It appears that Mr. Batey was generally non-committal in this discussion. He could neither confirm nor deny the current hybrid technology progress or the lack thereof. Whatever the status, he suggested that GM’s bankruptcy and the Australian automaker’s own financial difficulties put a damper on hybrid development. He did, however, say that Holden was still researching the best hybrid setup, whether that included start/stop functionality or any other myriad of features.
According to Batey, a mild hybrid is out. He discussed E85 possibilities in no more certain terms: Holden was looking to fleet customers who could maintain their own re-fueling stations because so few exist in the country. The company is also working with biofuel manufacturer and GM partner Coskata to create a waste-derived E85 program. Details were scarce as plans are covered by a confidentiality agreement. However, Mr. Batey did say that E85 is convenient because lack of immediate access to the fuel does not harm consumers. Interestingly, despite these hurdles, Saab was the first company to sell an E85 compatible car in Australia.
The General’s other fuel efficiency efforts remove some of the pressure to market a hybrid. A Holden-badged Volt-plugin is set to go on sale in 2012. Moreover, current Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) implementations, GM’s label for direct injection down under, seem to be keeping the Commodore competitive. Holden’s website indicates that the V6 Commodore Omega with SIDI gets better fuel economy than the 4 cylinder Ford Mondeo, six cylinder Toyota Aurion, four cylinder Honda CR-V, and the six cylinder Ford Falcon.
We’ll keep you abreast of developments as they happen right here on GM Authority.Be sure to check out the high-res gallery of the 2010 Holden Commodore VE SV6 after the jump.