A trio of Australian-designed cars have been recognised with top design awards in Detroit this week, proving that there is life in the local auto industry yet.
Rounding out the trio was Ford’s new GT supercar, awarded the top prize for ‘Best Production Vehicle’.
The result means that while Australia’s major automotive assembly plants will close their doors over the next few years, Ford and Holden will remain important players on the global stage.
Buick Avenir, Chevrolet Bolt
Speaking for the Avenir and Bolt teams, GM International Design vice president Mike Simcoe - himself an Australian and a former Holden design chief - said that the two concepts further prove the local operation’s talent pool.
“Avenir and Bolt EV are clear illustrations of the creativity and capability we have in the global design studio in Australia,” Mr Simcoe said.
“To have these vehicles recognised on the world stage and to receive not one, but two, awards from our peers is a fantastic achievement and one in which everyone should be immensely proud.”
As just one of two GM studios with the capacity for developing and building a concept from the ground up, Holden has long been an important cog in the carmaker’s global operations.
“The products revealed in Detroit clearly demonstrate our role within GM Design today and showcases the breadth of talent we have here in Australia, enabling us to work on different vehicles for different brands in different countries,” Holden design chief Richard Ferlazzo said at the unveiling of the Bolt concept.
Ford’s big new GT supercar, the second to be inspired by the original GT40 racing hero, was the centre of attention in Detroit this week.
Debuting as a rumoured but far-from-confirmed surprise package, the new supercar introduces a futuristic design that takes its initial cues from the GT40.
Media attention quickly swung around to the GT’s lead designer, however: Hobart-born Todd Willing, a 12-year Ford Australia veteran extracted from his home office to lead a covert team of six artists in Detroit.
That the GT arrived as a surprise for the public is no surprise to Willing, who was not even allowed to tell his wife what he had been working on for more than 14 months.
Willing’s GT may be the talk of Detroit this week, but the supercar also represents an important moment for Ford’s Melbourne operation, as it transitions from manufacturing for Australia to designing for the world.
Aside from the GT, Ford’s Australian Design Centre has most recently been involved with the new Everest SUV. In concept form, the new off-roader was designed and engineered in Broadmeadows.
The Everest and the GT couldn’t be any further apart in style and purpose, but both cars demonstrate the close relationship Ford Australia has with the company’s global strategy.
Ford Australia may not be a manufacturer for much longer, but it’s no mere importer.