Holden Remains Committed To Tuning Global Cars For Australian Consumers8
Holden, General Motors’ Australian subsidiary, doesn’t build cars anymore, but it’s had a major hand in making sure its imported cars suit Australian consumers and local roads.
Motoring reported on Monday that the brand has no plans to scrap local tuning for future Holden cars. The news comes amid a major sales slump at the Holden brand, though the division did turn a profit last year. Since the end of local Australian production of the VF Commodore, the imported ZB Commodore (an Opel Insignia), Holden Equinox, and Astra have failed to take off.
The brand’s managing director, Mark Bernhard, recently admitted Holden remains in a ho-hum state.
Holden vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone told Motoring that despite the challenges, his 35-strong team remains committed to ensuring imported cars drive like a Holden.
“It is a unique selling point, it is a strength of ours and it is something we can leverage,” he said.
GM and Holden remain committed, too. The brand recently invested $7 million AUD ($5.25 million USD) into the Lang Lang Proving Ground facility to resurface the circular track. Lang Lang will also play a roll in GM’s global emission testing.
Despite the local work, Tassone said false perceptions irk he and his team.
“The keyboard warriors piss us off, the social media commenters,” he said. “There are all these people who have all these opinions without having driven the cars. We are proud of what the cars are. That’s what keeps us coming to work and doing what we do.”
Next on Holden’s import list will be the 2018 GMC Acadia, which will keep the Acadia name and serve as a large SUV model in the brand’s portfolio.
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I can sympathise with Tassone’s comments on “keyboard warriors”; that doesn’t just happen to GM/Holden vehicles.
I am driving the new Astra as a ‘pool car runabout’ and I have to say, for a small car, it ‘by far’ more than exceeds my expectations of what a small car should(?) be. The handling is great, suspension is good if not a tad sporty (read: hard) for my liking, but on our crappy open roads this little beast just flys through corners unperterbed. The 1.4L turbo really gets up and goes if you bury the foot. My only complain in the engine department is the amount of turbo lag that still features, not like 90s turbos, but just enough to be a pain in the a….
Would I recommend the new Astra?? Hell yeah! But it is not a luxury vehicle and I certainly don’t expect luxury in a LS-spec fleet car. No doubt the LT, RS and LTZ spec models add the goodies most people want in their daily drivers.
Maybe GM Holden should have first moved the production of the VF Commodore to GM’s Rayong plant in Thailand with the closure of the manufaturing in Australia before replacing the VF Commodore by the ZB Commodore.
This move might have been costly, but marketingwise a wise move.
Let me state the obvious to GM Detroit – it’s as simple as this :
You should NOT have allowed the ZB Insignia to wear the Commodore nameplate.
This is just like Hollywood remaking a movie using an existing title and riding on the coat tails of the original.
Us Australians would have been more accepting of the ZB if it was badged what it actually is – an Insignia.
And respectfully retiring the Commodore name with dignity as Ford Australia did with the Falcon nameplate.
I hope you know that the Holden Commodore is called “Commodore” because it originally was an Opel Commodore? The Australian Holden Commodore is orignally …. German
Fully aware of that since 1978 🙂
But while the Australian car might have looked almost identical to the German car it was based from, that’s where the similarities ended.
Under the skin, the engineering Holden that did was vastly different (read : BETTER) to suit our Australian conditions.
The other fact that GM Detroit seem to not understand is that the VB was an Australian manufactured car and the ZB is not.
Any nation has pride in what it manufactures, especially when they have been doing so for decades.
If the ZB was manufactured in Australia even though it’s a German design (just like the VB was) it would have sold in much greater numbers than it has …
The main change was to allongate the body to make room for a larger engine.
As to the automobile manufacturing in Australia — you know that this was possible only with subsidies by the state. It could not survive by itself, and that’s why it vanished.
Have a look at the 2017 production statistics by country published by the OICA, the international association of the automobile industry:
There are few countries with a population of 25 million or less where automobiles are being produced; most of them are member countries of the EU, and are integral part of a continent wide production process for the whole market of th 500 million people living in EU countries.
None of those is able to maintain an automobile industry on its own.
As I said, GM would better have first moved the VB production to Thailand or Korea, and only after a time of adaptation to the realities of this world replace the VB with the ZB. Marketingwise this would have been better.
I have no doubt the the Holden engineering boys at the PG have fixed the ZB the same way they fixed the first horrible Opel all those years ago. These guys are the best in the GM world, no question! Whether the public gets on board and buys it is another thing.
No. This is basically the same car as the Buick Regal and Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and they run from the same assembly line as their twins.
Some details have changed, e.g. the Holden version is available with V6 engines, which are not available for the Opel/Vauxhall versions. But not e.g. the car’s dimension as with the adaptation of the Opel Commodore as Holden Commodore.