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Scoop: Holden’s Cruze hatch to make Paris debut

Paris hero: The Holden-designed Cruze hatch will break cover at the prestigious Paris motor show ahead of production launch in Adelaide in 2011.

Chevrolet to show Aussie-built Cruze hatch as Holden takes global design stage

26 Aug 2010

GM HOLDEN’S massive influence over the new generation of global small cars for General Motors will be demonstrated at the Paris motor show next month with the world premiere of the Cruze hatchback, Aveo compact car and Orlando people-mover – all of which Holden’s Melbourne design studio has had a significant, if not the leading, role in creating.

In the US and Europe overnight, General Motors issued photographs of the production version of the Chevrolet Orlando seven-seat compact people-mover, which will be unveiled in Paris exactly two years after the vehicle over which Australia had a major design influence was first presented as a concept at the Mondial de l’Automobile.

GM also revealed that the Orlando will be one of four world premieres to be presented in the French capital, and went on to confirm that in 2011 Chevrolet will launch the Australian-designed Cruze hatchback – which will be built here and sold as a Holden for our market – along with the Orlando, Aveo and an updated Captiva SUV complete with four new engines.

Holden would only say this week that it was too early to confirm the presence of the Cruze five-door at the Paris show, preferring to leave official announcements to Chevrolet.

However, overseas reports have said a Cruze hatchback will be a certain starter at the event and Holden director of external communications Emily Perry has also told GoAuto: “There will be some exciting news coming out of the Paris motor show and the Chevy reveals for the Australian market.”

The Orlando and the Cruze are built off the same Delta II platform, with the Cruze five-door entering production in Australia in the second half of next year as the local production source of the Cruze sedan also switches – in the first quarter – from South Korea to Adelaide.

137 center imageFrom top: Chevrolet Orlando, Chevrolet Aveo RS and Holden Cruze sedan.

Led by design director Tony Stolfo, the Holden design team was heavily involved in creating the Chevrolet Aveo RS show car unveiled in Detroit earlier this year, and is now playing a major role in reshaping much of the Chevrolet portfolio.

The Aveo is a certain starter for Australia, rebadged as a Barina and sold alongside another new small car from the Asia Pacific region, the sub-compact Chevrolet Spark – or Barina Spark, as it will be known here.

As GoAuto has reported, Holden’s Chevrolet design influence could extend as far as the all-American Corvette, having been recently asked to submit a design that, if adopted, would see the seventh-generation super-coupe styled by a studio outside the US for the first time in its 56-year history.

The Australian division has also been responsible for the Holden Statesman-based Chevrolet Caprice police patrol vehicles now available for order in the US.

No longer considered solely a large-car centre of excellence, Holden has been increasingly involved in global small cars and advanced design concepts, such as the recent Volt-based Chevrolet MPV5 – another vehicle built off the Delta II architecture – and the futuristic EN-V concepts.

Significantly, former Holden chief designer Michael Simcoe left Australia around eight years ago to become executive director of GM Asia Pacific Design – overseeing studios in South Korea and China – and in 2004 moved to the US to take charge of exterior design for all North American brands, including Chevrolet.

He is also now the executive director of global Chevrolet Design, and works alongside a host of other influential former Holden executives, including ex-GMH chairmen Mark Reuss and Alan Batey – the latter now vice-president of Chevrolet sales and service in the US, while Mr Reuss is president of GM North America.

Australia is still the only country confirmed as a production source for the Cruze hatchback, giving rise to export hopes for the new model, however other countries – including South Korea – are expected to be announced as it draws closer to market.

Ms Perry said: “You’ll have to wait for other announcements from Chevrolet about where the hatch will be built.

“We have said that there is the potential for maybe small right-hand drive export opportunities for that vehicle, but it is too soon to speculate about those opportunities. Certainly, we’re looking at it, but it is a domestic program first and foremost.”

In announcing the Orlando’s Paris premiere and the 2011 product rollout, Chevrolet Europe president and managing director Wayne Brannon said: “The new Orlando MPV kicks off an ambitious seven-product launch program over the next 15 months.

“We’re confident the Orlando not only brings great value for money to the MPV class but also something fresh – function with attitude if you like – and the opportunity for us to continue building our volume across Europe. I believe it will also bring more new customers to the Chevrolet brand.”

In addition to the Cruze hatchback, the production Aveo and facelifted Captiva, Chevrolet will also launch the Australian-developed Camaro coupe and convertible in Europe in 2011.

While details of the Cruze five-door and the other Paris highlights are still under wraps, the Orlando has emerged around four months after being shown in near-production form at the Busan motor show in South Korea.

Orlando was under consideration for release in Australia as a belated replacement for the discontinued European-sourced Zafira. However, Ms Perry told GoAuto this week that it was “not a priority vehicle for this market”.

Featuring SUV styling cues, the Orlando MPV is said to eschew “the bland designs sometimes seen in the segment”, according to GM, and instead adopts “a bolder look with its low roofline and crossover-inspired silhouette”.

It can accommodate wheel sizes of up to 18 inches, and will available with a 103kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in two status of tune – 96kW and 120kW. Three trim levels will be offered in Europe, with standard equipment across the range to include electronic stability control, six airbags and air-conditioning.

Speaking at the Orlando show car’s world debut in Paris in 2008, Mr Stolfo said: “With concepts such as Efijy and Coupe 60 receiving fantastic international coverage, we have gained a strong reputation in this area.

“It’s a testament to the expertise found here in Australia that we were asked to be part of this global collaboration.”

Meanwhile, Mr Simcoe told GoAuto at the Los Angeles auto show last December that Holden’s design expertise was well recognised throughout GM.

“Now that they have gotten past having to only work on the single architecture – the current Commodore’s (Zeta) architecture down there – they’ve been doing a more global job, working on things like Cruze, and they do team work or concepts for any number of projects that are happening around the world,” he said.

“It’s no longer single studios doing single projects for their own markets ... Holden has that role, but it has its global role as well.”

Ms Perry this week added that the “important role that the Holden design team plays for GM globally” was long established.

“We are recognised within GM for all of the incredible talent and resources that we have here. The role that we play in building show cars, (and) in developing next-generation vehicles and iconic vehicles like the Camaro is a testament to the talent of the design team here and how highly regarded we are within GM globally,” she said.

“We’re also one of only three truly integrated, full-service design centres within GM ... and we’re one of only seven facilities within GM worldwide that have the capability to design, build and sell vehicles. So we’re really proud of the role that we play for GM globally.”

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