New-to-the-chair Holden MD, Mark Barnhard, last night outlined Holden's plans for "transitioning" to an imported model range, ahead of the unveiling today of the next Commodore, the VF Series II.
Speaking to a select group of motoring media, he underscored GM Holden's commitment to the Australian market, and re-confirmed the company's plans to launch no less than 24 new products into the Australian market by the end of the decade.
"This will be the most comprehensive overhaul (of models) in the Holden brand's history," Mr Bernhard said.
"I'm here to win, Holden is here to win. Our goal is to be the best automotive company in Australia."
He also said that with the closedown of Holden's manufacturing operations here, "we'll make sure we treat all of our employees with the dignity and respect they deserve".
As part of this undertaking, Holden is committing a further AU$15million to retraining affected employees. It is also retaining its powertrain engineering unit, with 200 employees, and its design unit, with more than 100 employees, as well as the Lang Lang Proving Ground and its Port Melbourne HQ.
We know, as confirmed by Mr Bernhard, that the new Holden range will be sourced from factories in Europe, Asia and the US. That latter information is an important confirmation.
As for the model range, what we now know of what's coming - the "known knowns" - is this:
There will also be new-to-Australia large SUVs and 4X4 models to compete with the LandCruiser 200 and Prado range. For this, you might be able to book odds on the return of a new Suburban or Chevrolet Tahoe, and, highly likely, the Silverado 1500 pick-up.
There will also be, as confirmed, a rear-wheel-drive performance model, which, though not confirmed by name, all of the 'body language' from Holden strongly suggests is the new Camaro. Reports, then, of GM 'killing off' the rear-drive V8 Camaro for this market would appear to be premature.
The new Camaro sits on the same chassis as "what will be found under the new Commodore".
This, then, gets interesting. While it looks somewhat similar to the current model, the 2016 Camaro is vastly different below the skin and sits on GM's Alpha platform, the same platform found below the Cadillac CTS and ATS.
This would suggest that those images of an Insignia being described as Australia's next new Commodore may be wide of the mark. That's not to say it won't come here with a Holden badge, but it possibly won't be the next Commodore.
Will there instead be a shift upmarket for the Commodore nameplate? As part of the presentation, the screen briefly showed the Buick Avenir concept, a stretched coupe-like sedan seen at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show. Was this hinting at the new Commodore? No-one was saying... call it an "unknown known" - Holden knows, we don't.
Meanwhile, of the new VF Commodore Series II, Mr Bernhard said that it will be "the quickest, most powerful, and most complete Commodore ever made". Watch TMR for details of its unveiling.
Silverado image via pickuptrucks.com
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