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Holden customers keep Commodore name alive

Holden on: Holden is yet to confirm details for its next-generation Commodore but it is believed it will share underpinnings with the 2016 Opel Insignia (2014 model shown).

GM confirms 2018 Holden large car will carry iconic Commodore nameplate

20 Jan 2015

HOLDEN has officially confirmed that it will keep the Commodore nameplate for its next-generation large car due in 2018 following customer feedback, ending speculation over the fate of the iconic Aussie moniker.

General Motors' local division will replace the locally designed, engineered and built Commodore sedan and Sportwagon following the closure of the company's local manufacturing operations in 2017.

While GM is yet to confirm the basis of the first non-Australian Commodore, it is widely believed that it will be a front-wheel or all-wheel drive model based on a new global mid- and large-size platform – dubbed E2XX – that will replace the Epsilon II underpinnings shared with a number of GM models including the Opel Insignia.

The next-generation Insignia is firming as the front runner to replace the Commodore, with Holden confirming last year that its future line-up will have a more European flavour, with about one-third of its models to be sourced from the Continent.

The first injection of European metal will come in the middle of the year when the Insignia returns to Australia with Holden badges in high-performance VXR guise, alongside the Astra GTC and VXR and the Cascada drop-top sportscar.

It will be the second time the Insignia has been sold here, following an unsuccessful attempt by GM's German offshoot Opel to set-up shop in Australia in 2012 that ended just 12 months later following slow sales in the competitive local new-car market.

Other Opel-sourced models on the cards include the Corsa light car that could replace the Barina, the Zafira people-mover that was set to launch just weeks after Opel pulled the plug in Australia, and the Vivaro delivery van.

Another possibility is that the 2018 Commodore could be sourced from the United States and potentially built on a new rear-drive platform – Omega II – that will be shared with global GM product, such as the forthcoming Cadillac CT6 flagship, and, if it gets the green light for production, the Australian-designed Buick Avenir that was revealed at the Detroit show this month.

In announcing that the Commodore name will live on beyond 2017 and be sourced from “GM's global portfolio”, Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley said significant market research showed that Australians favoured retaining the nameplate for the future large car.

“When it arrives in 2018, our new large car will honour Commodore’s heritage and support a long and successful future for Holden in Australia and New Zealand. Holden and Commodore aren’t going anywhere, they will remain pillars of Australian motoring for many years to come,” he said.

“Customers have confirmed that retaining the Commodore nameplate is the right decision for Holden.

“Through the process of selecting the vehicle, we put to customers a number of possible criteria to better understand what they felt was important for the car to be competitive in the Australian market. And, of course, whether it deserved the Commodore nameplate.

“Ultimately, the overwhelming response from customers was that Holden should continue the Commodore nameplate into the future with our next-generation large car.” After 17 different customer research sessions involving both Commodore owners and non-Commodore owners, the company said in a statement that there was a “strong majority” of people favouring retention of the nameplate.

Mr Keley said the 2018 Commodore will be tested and honed for local conditions, to ensure a driving experience Commodore owners have come to expect.

“We know the decision to retain or retire the Commodore nameplate will stir passionate responses among Holden fans and customers. That’s why we’ll ensure the next-generation car drives like a Commodore should.

“The vehicle will be tuned and honed by Holden engineers and technicians at our world-class Lang Lang Proving Ground in Victoria, ensuring it performs in Australian conditions and to Australian expectations. Right now, our Vehicle Performance team is helping shape the next-generation Commodore for Australian customers.” GM executive vice president and president of GM International Stefan Jacoby remained tight-lipped about details of the post-VF Commodore, but added it would carry improvements to a number of key areas.

“I cannot reveal full details of the next-generation vehicle, but I can say it will either compare very favourably or improve on the current Commodore’s dynamic performance, acceleration, fuel economy, running costs and mass,” he said.

“The current VF Commodore has set new standards for quality and driveability and continues to perform well in the Australian and New Zealand markets. We are confident that from 2018, we can honour Commodore’s heritage and chart a new direction for the next-generation vehicle that is worthy of the esteemed Commodore name.” The Commodore was Holden's best-selling model in 2014 with 30,203 sales, representing an 8.8 per cent climb over the previous year's haul of 27,766.

Since its launch in mid 2013, the VF has consistently been in the top five best-selling cars in the country each month and is Australia's favourite family sedan by some margin, easily outselling the Ford Falcon, Toyota Aurion and even the locally built mid-size Camry.

Development of an Australian built Commodore to replace VF was underway when Holden announced in December 2013 that it would shut its manufacturing operations come 2017 due to unfavourable conditions that made it financially unviable to build cars in Australia.

While Holden will soldier on with the Commodore name, Ford confirmed that its Falcon nameplate would be killed off when production ceases at its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants in 2016.

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