HOLDEN TO KEEP LANG LANG
Holden has backflipped on news last year that it would retain only its Port Melbourne facilities when local manufacturing ends in 2017, confirming today that its Lang Lang proving grounds in Victoria will also stay.
Revealed in Melbourne today, where Holden boss Gerry Dorizas was joined by GM International Operations chief Stefan Jacoby, the announcement confirms that future imported Holden models will be tuned locally for the Australian market.
Mr Jacoby highlighted the importance of Holden’s Australian identity, stating that while local production is ending, it is crucial that the company be respectful of its heritage.
“This is an important step in ensuring that Holden and its products continue to speak with a strong Australian accent now and in the future. The world over, everything starts and ends with great product,” Mr Jacoby said.
“Our continued investment in the Proving Ground and the GM Australia Design Centre reinforces the strength of the Holden brand and the company’s commitment to maintaining a significant presence in the Australia.”
“The Australian design and engineering capability is also a critical asset for GM globally. This local team is a key part of our global design and engineering strategy for the future,” he added.
Asked if the decision to retain Lang Lang was “a PR move” to win over media and the market, Mr Jacoby said the decision is part of a strategy to keep and build the brand’s leadership position in Australia.
"We have moved from a defence strategy over the last ten years, where we lost market share, to an offense strategy. We believe that we can gain market share and market position," Mr Jacoby said.
"With the kind of thoughts that we had within our strategy, it became clear that we want to maintain our engineering and proving ground capability here in Australia."
He added that some 200 of the around-1000 people currently working in design and engineering at Holden will stay on beyond 2017.
“Our engineering and vehicle development team at Lang Lang will have the capability to tune suspension, steering and drivetrain characteristics for Australia’s unique conditions and customers,” Mr Dorizas said.
“The Lang Lang team will also remain plugged in to GM’s global engineering department, with ongoing input into product programs that reach beyond Holden and influence GM vehicles around the world. Our world-class GM Australia Design Centre will also continue to help shape not just future Holdens but GM vehicles around the globe.”
A Holden spokesperson later added that, of the 200 positions expected to stay, around 130 will be in design and around 70 in the localised engineering team.
The announcement means that, like Ford Australia, Holden will continue to play a small but critical role in the design and development of global GM models both for Australia and overseas markets.
But, with Holden’s local manufacturing operations ending in 2017, the company will take all of its Australian-market models from overseas sources.
The Lang Lang proving grounds have been a part of Holden’s history since 1957, playing a role in the development and engineering of every locally-produced Holden from the FC in 1958 through to the new VF Commodore range.
The facility includes 44km of sealed and unsealed roads, with a variety of features designed to replicate real-world conditions.
Mr Jacoby said today that the facility will be used primarily for localised tuning of new imported Holden models, although some amount of export-market work will be carried out there as part of the company’s role in the global GM empire.