Holden Commodore survives stateside

July 15th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Chevrolet Caprice fq

With GM sending the Pontiac brand name to the scrapheap, there was no doubt Holden was nervous, it supplied VE Commodores as Pontiac G8s. Now, according to GM’s Bob Lutz, the plan is to continue offering the VE but rebadged as a Chev Caprice. “The last time we looked at [the G8], we decided that we would continue to import it as a Chevrolet. It is kind of too good to waste.”  Was the comment from Lutz.

As previously reported, there is also a feasibility study going on bassed around weather the cars could also be used as successful law enforcement vehicles to replace the current out dated American fleet. Either way, It looks like Holden Australia are going to have plenty of orders coming in.

HSV confirms update for E Series 2 range

July 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

HSV Clubsport R8

HSV has just confirmed that the E Series range will be given a significant upgrade with new features, driver enhancements and visual changes for introduction later this year.

According to Managing Director Phil Harding, the multi-million dollar program includes major visual differentiation and introduces at least five firsts for Australian production cars — offering a shot in the arm for the local industry.

“We know our customers want the latest technologies, as well as distinctive luxury and performance features in their HSV,” he said. “Our customers will be delighted with the delivery of improved economy, more power, some truly exciting driver enhancements and distinctive design themes.”

HSV will start a staged preview campaign aimed at generating customer interest and demand in the new model. Dealers, frequent buyers and loyal customers will be supplied this information ahead of general release because of the importance of this new model to HSV.

“This represents a massive change for the E Series HSV range and is the culmination of three years of research and development,” Phil Harding said.

More details will be released when E Series 2 nears launch. Until then, click here to check out the HSV website for further information on the E Series 2.

HSV preparing for next-gen E-Series range

July 3rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer fq

Recent rumours suggest that Holden Special Vehicles will be making a number of cosmetic and mechanical changes to its E-Series range of performance sedans soon.

The upcoming changes will involve some mechanical tweaking to the 6.2 litre LS3 V8 used by the E-series range, which should see power graduated to around 325kW and fuel economy improved to just under 14 l/100km combined cycle.

Some updated body styling is also apparently being prepared. HSV is said to want to further visually move away from the volume-selling Commodore sedan range. Huge aesthetic changes would probably be too risky and expensive for HSV to accomplish, but new bumpers, wheels and other aero add-ons are on the cards.

The VE-based HSV line-up has proved the most popular in HSV’s 21-year history so the performance manufacturer is hopeful that an upgraded model line will keep customers interested.

Will the rumoured refinements for 2010 E-Series HSV’s keep sales figures strong in a market that’s steadily moving away from big, thirsty sedans? Only time will tell.

Holden posts $70.2m loss for 2008

July 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden posts loss for 2008

The global economic crisis, rising petrol prices, a consumer shift away from large cars and some large, one-off expenses have all worked against Holden to see it lose out in 2008.

Australia’s iconic automaker recorded a $70.2 million AUS loss for 2008, caused largely by a massive $76.8 million bill for various one-off costs, mostly related to the decommissioning of Melbourne’s Family II engine plant.

Before the decommissioning expense, Holden was on track to post a small after-tax profit of  $6.6 million for the year ending December 31. In the current economic climate, the loss is an acceptable one for Holden. Quality products, a strong export program and careful production management has still protected the company’s finances in a turbulent global market.

Total sales revenue dipped from $5.7 billion in 2007 to $5.4 billion, as many new car buyers shifted away from large cars like the Commodore.

Export revenue rose from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion due to engine exports and the newly-released Pontiac G8 in the states, but with the G8 officially discontinued and GM enduring bankruptcy, this year’s export results may not be as positive.

The global economic slump prevented Holden from making a profit for 2008, like it did for many other automakers, but Ford came off much worse with a record $274.4 million loss.

Despite no profits last year, Holden is a solid performer and its position within the GM stable is still assured. The addition of the Cruze to Holden’s line-up should provide a vehicle capable of retaining customers downsizing from the Commodore, while the new locally-made small hatchback that’s expected to arrive next year will also give the company hope.

Holden Commodore may survive in American market

June 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Pontiac G8 fq dyn

Over in the states the once proud Pontiac brand is now dead in the water but many American enthusiasts are clamouring for the Pontiac G8 aka Holden Commodore to be rebadged and sold under another GM brand name.

Designed and constructed in Australia by Holden, the G8 has been a better than average seller thanks to its competitive pricing and sporty nature, and it may get another chance.

GM’s current CEO, Fritz Henderson, has already been clear that no Pontiac vehicle will survive the marques extinction. But Henderson also has a commitment to retain bits of GM’s sporting heritage, so the Corvette will remain in the portfolio along with other performance models. The high-performance version of the G8 named the G8 GXP will not continue according to Henderson but what about the lesser versions?

The standard Pontiac G8 sedan’s future is up in the air and enthusiasts are lobbying GM to keep the car and simply remarket it as the Impala SS. With the Impala SS set to be phased out shortly, the plan appears to have timing on its side, but even so GM’s vice chairman of global product development Tom Stephens still doesn’t think there’s room for the car at Chevrolet.

In a recent interview, Stephens claimed that while there are still be discussions raging on about the G8’s future, the fact is that “Chevrolet already has several sedans” making the rebranding of the car unnecessary. GM could attempt to rebrand it as a Buick model but again the likelihood of this is uncertain considering boss man Fritz Henderson’s dislike of the G8 GXP performance model.

The G8/Commodore has done the hard yards and proven itself in the American market  and with minimal development costs it would be easy to market the car following Pontiac’s demise – although figuring out which brand may best support the car will be very tricky for GM.

Here’s a crazy idea; why not take that stupid Pontiac face off the car, let it be a proudly Australian Holden Commodore, and sell it through the GM dealer networks. Then watch as the American public slowly realise that a GM subsidiary on the other side of the world is making a better sports sedan than GM America is capable of.

Holden remains unaffected by GM bankruptcy

June 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden remains unaffected by GM bankruptcy

Holden are set to continue normal operations in Australia and New Zealand and does not expect changes to its business after General Motors announced its bankruptcy in the US. “Operations at Holden are unchanged in Australia and New Zealand and we expect it to remain that way,” Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Reuss, said yesterday.

“GM has clearly stated that all of its businesses in the Asia Pacific region — and that includes Holden — continue normal operations and are not directly impacted by this process in the US. “No operations outside the US are included in the court filing or court supervised process. “Holden is a subsidiary of GM but we are a corporate entity in our own right — an independent company under Australian law. “Beyond that, GM has indicated that Holden will be an important part of the New GM. “We intend to maintain our focus on Holden product programs and activities. “That means technology improvements to our Commodore range, launching the all-new Holden Cruze this month, and the introduction of our locally-built fuel efficient, four cylinder small car next year.

“We continue to run full operations at Elizabeth and Port Melbourne, producing cars for our 300-strong independent dealer network. “We don’t anticipate this decision will have any direct impact on Holden’s workforce, dealers, or suppliers. “Holden customer warranties are not affected. We wouldn’t normally issue statements to highlight nothing has changed, but we appreciate that customers will naturally ask questions about this sort of announcement from the US.” Mr Reuss said Holden would remain informed of developments in the US, a process which had been determined to reinvent General Motors.

“The process being used in the US is unlike Australian and New Zealand law. It is a fast, court supervised process that permits the sale of selected assets to a new entity,” Mr Reuss said. “Unlike court-controlled processes in many other countries, US chapter 11 allows GM to deal with the financial issues that have built up over many years and for New GM to emerge as a healthier business, better able to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow. “It does not mean ceasing to trade.” Pending approvals, the New GM is expected to launch in about 60 to 90 days as a separate and independent company from the current GM, with two distinct advantages: it will be built from only GM’s best brands and operations, and it will be supported by a stronger balance sheet due to a significantly lower debt burden and operating cost structure than before.

GM has previously indicated it is negotiating with prospective buyers for the Saab and Hummer brands. GM is working closely with dealers, including those in Australia and New Zealand, to continue delivering vehicles and maintaining aftersales and servicing requirements.

2010 Opel Astra revealed before Frankfurt debut

May 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Opel Astra fq

Financially troubled carmaker Opel has just released details of its upcoming next-generation 2010 Astra before its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

The 2010 Astra’s design is inspired by the larger Opel Insignia, it shows off all-new sheet metal that takes cues from its big brother and packages it into a smaller, more fluid shape. The fascia, headlamps and back-end reflect Opel’s new design direction, along with the sculpted sides and raked-back windscreen.

The new Astra has a wheelbase that stretches 2.8 inches longer than the outgoing model. The “wing and blade” design language employed on the exterior carries through to the interior, and joins ergonomic seats and the new Opel Eye front camera system, which can apparently recognise road signs and warns drivers if they veer out of their lane.

There will be a total of eight different engines available, including four CDTI common-rail diesels with displacements ranging from 1.3- to 2.0-litres and outputs of between 95 and 160 hp. Another four gas-powered units, with displacements between 1.4- and 1.6-litres, dish out between 100 and 180 hp along with a new turbocharged 1.4-litre that replaces the outgoing naturally aspirated 1.8-litre and puts out 140 hp and 14% more torque, while lowering fuel consumption.

The wraps officially come off the five-door Astra later this year, while a four-door sedan, three-door hatch and a two-mode hybrid variant are expected to debut in 2010. Global sales should begin towards the end of 2009, and hopefully we will see the new 2010 Astra down here in NZ next year with a Holden badge whacked on the front.

Holden can still win in the American market

May 4th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Pontiac G8 ST fq

With Pontiac’s death official, Holden could lose around $1 billion annually with the demise of the Pontiac G8. However, Holden has a never-say-die attitude that has it busy looking for other stateside options. The Aussie automaker has drawn up plans to offer the rear-wheel drive Commodore platform to Cadillac and GMC.

Although GM’s CEO, Fritz Henderson, has confirmed that the G8 won’t live on, there’s still a chance it could be used by law enforcement in the States (read news item), and with American brand Cadillac’s recent attempts to inject more RWD models into the mix, the Zeta architecture that underpins the Commodore could be used for a new line of Caddies.

With GMC safe — for now — from sharing a grave with Pontiac, Holden could easily make a case for importing the Commodore ute to the U.S. as a fuel-efficient alternative to GMC’s otherwise big and thirsty pick-ups. Where there’s a niche, GM normally likes to fill it, and the Zeta-based Cadillacs may look likely soon as GM seeks to downsize some larger vehicles to aid its survival.