Holden auto news

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2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

07/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Holden, Australia, Luxury

2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

On a recent jaunt to Australia, we got behind the wheel of a Holden Commodore SS-V Redline. We've been looking forward to driving not a Holden, but the Holden, the Commodore, ever since we visited Australia for the first time in 1994 and saw a Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) Commodore parked like a magazine-spread model in a driveway next to a house on a bluff. It was an indifferent, unavailable and previously unknown exotic.

We pledged the fraternity at the very top, pulling out of the lot at Sutton Holden in Arncliffe in a Commodore SS-V Redline. Easy to confuse for our Chevrolet SS, this is not the Australian export we get. The Holden range comes in eight flavors, the SS-V Redline the uppermost branch on the sports-oriented side of the family tree that employs the LS2 6.0-liter V8 dedicated to Holden's performance models. Our Chevrolet SS is from the HSV tribe, all of its tautly strung warriors using the LS3 6.2-liter V8. The Holden's 6.0-liter puts out 362 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, wheres the SS' 6.2-liter serves up 425 hp and 420 lb-ft.

The SS-V Redline is said to be "the first properly track-developed car to wear a Holden [not an HSV] badge," and ours had a slice of heaven between the front seats: a six-speed manual transmission. According to Aussie journos, the SS-V Redline is "the first Holden that can truly approach HSV offerings," and we couldn't wait to find out what that meant. When we drove straight from the dealer to pick up an Australian friend and she asked, "Is this your big beefy car?" we answered with pride, "Why yes, yes it is."

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Commodore name won't sail on when GM replaces big Holden sedan

06/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Holden, Australia

Holden Commodore SSV

Big changes are afoot at Holden. After General Motors opted to shut down its only plants Down Under, its Australian subsidiary is shifting from a manufacturer to an importer of automobiles. The question on everyone's mind, then, has been whether Detroit would keep its Australian nameplates in place, or replace them with global ones.

The word on the yellow-brick roads of Oz has been shifting back and forth, but the latest indicates that GM will kill the Commodore name when the replacement for the current model arrives. Holden's only proprietary model, the rear-drive Commodore sedan, wagon and ute are set to be replaced by a front-drive model to be brought in from either Asia or Europe. And while Holden execs have been pleading their case, it now appears that - because the car will be so fundamentally different from the one it replaces - GM will push the same nameplate it applies to the vehicle in other markets rather than try to port over the Commodore name, killing it alongside the Falcon that Ford is discontinuing as well.

The next question, then, is whether the Holden name will fall with it. GM has been promising up and down that it will keep the Holden brand in place, but strategists in Detroit have reportedly been pushing to replace it altogether with the Chevy bow-tie. And if GM finds that the shuttering of its plants in Australia has tarnished the Holden brand image too much, the advocates for Chevy could get their way.

Aside from the Commodore, the entire Holden range otherwise consists exclusively of rebadged Chevrolets, after all. Experts reportedly indicate that rebranding all 233 Holden dealers across Australia would cost as much as a million Australian dollars (about $940k at today's rates) - half of which would be shouldered by GM and half passed on to the dealers themselves.

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HSV to keep plugging away after Holden Commodore production ceases

06/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Holden, Australia

Holden HSV ute

Australian muscle car fans rejoice. The Holden brand will stop building cars domestically in 2017, but the Holden Special Vehicles performance company will remain to produce more fast cars in Oz.

HSV is technically somewhat separate from Holden and is partially owned by the Walkinshaw family who are famous in racing. The future of the performance company was seriously in doubt recently with Walkinshaw considering a move to Detroit to tune vehicles, however, the latest news paints a much rosier picture. According to Cars Guide in Australia, HSV recently rehired its former chief engineer, Joel Stoddart, and he told them the business wasn't going away anytime soon.

Keeping HSV around is the kind of help that Holden needs. The automaker wants to have the most market share in the Australian market by 2020 and has a trio of new models planned that are imported from Opel in Europe. HSV's future responsibilities are still a big question, though. It's best known for its tuned V8s, but after the Commodore, that option is probably gone. Instead, according to Cars Guide, it has been playing with the Insignia VXR sedan and its 2.8-liter turbocharged V6, which is coming soon to Oz. Maybe an Opel is the future of the Aussie muscle car...

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Commodore EV was almost ready before Holden collapsed

05/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Holden, Australia, Electric

EV Engineering Holden Commodore

When you look at a Holden Commodore, you're not likely to see a "green" car staring back at you. (That is, assuming you're in Australia where the Commodore is sold. Or in the UK where you can get a Vauxhall VXR8. Or here in the US where it's rebadged as a Chevy SS or before that as a Pontiac G8 or GTO.) It is, in many cases after all, a big, rear-drive V8 muscle sedan. Not, in other words, known for its frugal sipping of fuel. But that didn't have to be the case.

According to our VB-guzzling compatriots from Down Under, a joint venture was on the verge of bringing an electric version of the Commodore to market. That joint venture was called EV Engineering, and it was the same outfit that built the (unofficial) record-setting Commodore that drove on electric power alone for a full 24 hours, covering 1,172 miles in the process. With development all but complete, EV Engineering was all ready to bring its electric Commodore to market, until all its constituents started dropping out.

First Futuris dropped out, then Better Place went under, GE Finance pulled its backing and GM turned Holden into an importer. After that Bosch and Air International dropped out, leaving just one constituent to the joint venture. The sole remaining partner, Axiflux is on the lookout for potential partners for the electric vehicle technology on which it collaborated, but given the state of the Australian automobile industry these days, it could be facing an uphill battle - up Ayers Rock, no less - to capitalize on the technology it's got.

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Holden getting Cascada, Astra and Insignia from Opel [w/videos]

05/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, GM, Holden, Australia

Holden Cascada, Astra and Insignia

Holden, General Motor's Australian arm, is just beginning a major transition. The automaker announced late last year that it would end local production in 2017. But recently, Gerry Dorizas, its new managing director, boldly declared that the marque is gunning to lead the country in market share by 2020. His plan is to launch more youth-focused products and improve the brand's dealers to do it. We're seeing the first steps in that plan with the addition of three imported models to the Holden line in mid-2015.

The Cascada, Insignia and two versions of the Astra are all on their way to Oz from Opel in Europe next year. The Cascada is a two-door convertible with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and choice of a six-speed manual or automatic, and it's a model that has been rumored to be under consideration for duty here in North America. The Astra will be available as the three-door GTC with a 1.6-liter turbo four and six-speed manual or automatic, or in hardcore VXR guise, with a 2.0-liter turbo four and a six-speed manual. Finally, the Insignia VXR four-door sedan has a 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Holden doesn't have Australian-market power figures or pricing for the cars, so we don't yet know if there are differences compared to their European counterparts.

The company admits that it expects the three new models to be niche vehicles, at least at first, but they show the direction that the automaker is going. If Holden wants to survive with local production ending, it must find more attractive models to import. This addition underscores what the automaker is telling fans - it's in Australia to stay. Scroll down to watch some videos of the new vehicles and read GM's official release.

Continue reading Holden getting Cascada, Astra and Insignia from Opel [w/videos]

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Despite shuttering local assembly, Holden gunning for top spot in Oz by 2020

04/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Plants/Manufacturing, Holden, Australia

Holden Struggles As Hundreds Accept Redundancies

Little more than a month after leaving the top slot at Volkswagen of India to become managing director of Holden, Australian outlets are reporting that Gerry Dorizas said he wants Holden to be number one in Oz market share by 2020. Dorizas says he believes it can be done with better and more youth-focused product, a better dealership experience and "a lot of work."

Even with all of that, it's an ambitious timeline. Holden has seen its once colossal 25-percent market share drop to 9.9 percent last year, only about half of Toyota's 19 percent and just a few hot breaths ahead of Mazda at 9.1 percent (the Corolla was the best selling car in Oz last year, dethroning the Mazda3 after three years by just 1,500 units). In fact, it's still in the danger zone presented by Hyundai at 8.6 percent. More worrying still, Holden's 2013 market share is a decline from its 12.8-percent share in 2011 and 10.4-percent share in 2012.

That 2020 target would also give it just three years after the cessation of Australian assembly operations for the rebound, and no one really knows how potential Holden intenders are going to react when the local manufacturing show is really over. And by now, we all know how motivated Toyota will be not to cede its crown. Dorizas is confident when he says, "[We] will come back," but he's paid to be. How he manages to make that happen, or not, will be a show worth watching.

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Walkinshaw to jump from Holden to Chevy Special Vehicles?

03/21/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Chevrolet, Holden, Australia

Holden Commodore Gen-F HSV

The name Walkinshaw carries with it a proud history of collaborating with major automakers to produce some of the most lust-worthy racing machinery and road-going performance vehicles ever known. The Jaguar XJR-9 was developed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing. So were the Nissan R390, Porsche WSC-95 and Mazda MXR-01 - top-tier Le Mans prototypes all. Walkinshaw helped Jaguar develop the XJR-15 and XJ220 supercars.

TWR went under when the Arrows Grand Prix team it owned went bankrupt, but the name (and the family behind it) resurfaced to establish Walkinshaw Performance, the outfit behind Holden Special Vehicles. GM's Australian subsidiary relies on HSV to both run its V8 Supercars operation and tune its Commodore sedans into veritable muscle machines - the likes of which other General Motors divisions were eager to import in the form of the Pontiac GTO, Chevy SS and Vauxhall VXR8.

Unfortunately Holden, as you may be aware, is ceasing its manufacturing operations, leaving the future of HSV and Walkinshaw Performance hanging in the balance. Holden has stated that it intends to keep HSV and Walkinshaw right where it is, tuning whatever vehicles it might have to offer in the future into the tire-shredding monsters we've come to know and love. But Walkinshaw isn't about to sit around and wait.

These days the company is run by founder (and former European touring car champion) Tom Walkinshaw's son Ryan. With Holden transforming itself into a sales conduit for imported GM products, Ryan Walkinshaw is looking to greener pastures. And that could take him and his outfit to Detroit.

According to Aussie car site Motoring.com.au, Walkinshaw is keen to capitalize on its expertise to springboard into producing a flagship line of performance Chevrolets. That could mean importing the partially completed vehicles from Michigan to its facility in Australia. Or it could move its operation to Lansing where assembly of the next generation of Alpha-based, rear-drive GM vehicles - including the Cadillac ATS and CTS and the next Chevrolet Camaro and SS - is being centralized.

If Walkinshaw gets its way and the plans come to fruition, it could be charged with producing a new line of Chevrolet Special Vehicles just like it's done for Holden. Looking at vehicles like the new Camaro Z/28 and Corvette Z06, we can't help but wonder if Chevy really needs the help, but then that's how Mercedes-AMG (not to mention HSV) got its start, so who knows what the future could hold for Walkinshaw and the next generation of performance Chevys.

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Report: GM may be asked to give up Holden name in Australia

01/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hirings/Firings, Plants/Manufacturing, GM, Holden, Australia

Holden Logo

Never a people to go down without a fight, Australia is still lobbying to save local Holden production following the announcement from General Motors that its South Australia-based subsidiary would be closing up shop. Now, the state's premier (that's like a governor) is attempting to find another automaker to buy Holden from GM. Premier Jay Weatherill has suggested that Holden be sold to another manufacturer, if it will mean that production will continue at the Elizabeth and Fisherman Bend factories.

"It may be that a particular car manufacturer might want to set up here but use the equity that's in the Holden brand to continue making cars," Weatherill told reporters. "That's obviously something that's the property of General Motors at the moment and, presumably, they have an interest in keeping it because it has value for them. But that is something that we would want to advance in any discussions with Holden."

Which manufacturer would be willing to plop down money on the Holden name and factories, particularly after both GM and Ford have ended local production, remains unclear. Toyota is currently the only other brand to maintain production in Australia.

Plans for Holden's future have included turning it into a branch of Chevrolet, as well as importing a front-wheel-drive version of the brand's flagship, the Commodore, from China.

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Report: Australia looks to fill the void of Holden's manufacturing shutdown

01/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, GM, Holden, Australia

Holden manufacturing

The closure of a single automotive assembly plant can be devastating on the local economy. But in Australia, they're dealing with what effectively amounts to the shutdown of its entire automotive sector. Mitsubishi closed its factory there a few years ago. Ford announced just months back that it would cease manufacturing in Australia, and now General Motors is following suit. That effectively leaves just Toyota manufacturing on any substantial scale in Australia, but who knows for how much longer.

The more immediate question is what will happen to the two plants (assembly in Adelaide and engines in Melbourne) that GM's Holden division will no longer need once it winds down production in 2017 - and the workers who count on them (and the surrounding suppliers) for their livelihood. It may still be three years off, but local officials aren't waiting around to see what will happen.

According to reports coming in from Oz, several other automakers have expressed interest in taking over the Adelaide assembly plant. The development wouldn't be unprecedented, as Mitsubishi took over Chrysler's manufacturing facilities in Australia in 1980 before itself shutting down in 2008. But there are also some prospects being discussed from associated industries, including armored vehicle manufacturing and LPG conversion.

In the interim, local and federal government bodies are earmarking hundreds of millions of Australian dollars (currently worth 89 cents on the US dollar) to help reinvigorate the manufacturing sector, as well as government works projects in the shipbuilding and train-line construction sectors that could create "tens of thousands" of jobs, according to South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

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Video: Holden reassures Aussies it's here to stay

12/24/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Holden, Australia

Screencap from a Holden 'Here to Stay' campaign video

Holden is working hard to counter the notion that it will disappear in 2017. It responded via press release to an Australian newspaper article that it will become Chevrolet when it ceases local manufacturing in 2016, and has placed graphics emblazoned with "We're Here to Stay" just about anywhere it lives online.

Explaining that tag line are a video and a Facebook post that seeks to answer ten commonly asked questions about the brand and its future, like the return on the government's investment in Holden and how dealers, customers and staff will be affected.

Come 2017, though, it might not be the existence of the Holden badge that'll be in question, but the propriety of putting it on a front-wheel drive, four-cylinder, Chinese-built Buick. But for now, you can watch Holden's pledge to hang on in the video below.

Continue reading Holden reassures Aussies it's here to stay

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