It’s easy to correlate the end of Holden manufacturing with the arrival of the 2018 ZB Commodore. The new Commodore does not offer a V8 engine, it’s front-wheel drive and it’s smaller than its predecessor, the VF Commodore.
But, Holden committed to the nameplate’s brave new future before plans to wind down Australian manufacturing were finalized. Motoring reported on Wednesday that the brand actually committed to a front-wheel-drive Commodore sans V8 in 2011.
At the time, plans to produce the ZB Commodore on General Motors’ E2 platform were locked in, and the car would have been produced at the Elizabeth assembly plant after some major retooling. Holden director of engineering, Brett Vivian, said the team committed to the car knowing the V8-powered vehicles were becoming more of a niche product.
He did say, however, that the team made the decision when fuel prices were on the rise and expected to climb. That hasn’t been the case.
Ultimately, the V8 segment “just wasn’t the place to place your bets and invest your money,” he said.
Another factor in the decision was the Zeta platform’s use. With the Camaro slated to move to the Alpha platform, Holden was the only brand utilizing the architecture.
“It was really a case of how many architectures could General Motors afford to develop,” he said. “And how many different people wanted to use Zeta versus something like this (E2).”
The decision to do a global car was set in stone to invest in fewer architectures and maximize synergies. Even if Holden was still manufacturing cars today, the ZB Commodore would share identical parts with Opel and Buick.
Vivian added that one deviation was considered for the new Commodore: a long-wheelbase version of the ZB car on the E2 platform. In the end, Holden stuck with the global packaging size.
“We toyed for a long time with whether we would go with this Insignia-based one or a longer-wheelbase one, but ultimately we landed on Insignia which I think was the right call,” Vivian said.