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Future models - Holden - Commodore

Holden’s new VF Commodore out and about

Swansong: Holden's VEII MY12 Commodore range will make way for a significantly re-engineered VF line-up by 2014.

Holden talks up 2014 Commodore as decision on longer-term future ‘weeks away’

Holden logo21 Feb 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

CAMOUFLAGED next-generation 2014 Holden Commodore test cars have hit the road, with company chairman and managing director Mike Devereux as one of the drivers.

Mr Devereux today told GoAuto that he had recently driven a VF Commodore engineering car – known colloquially as a ‘test mule’ – on Victorian public roads, saying he had been blown away by his first taste of the car outside Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground.

He said the cars were complete VF Commodore prototypes under the camouflage, including the exterior panels, except that some interior finishes had been made up of different surfaces, such as one section in piano black and another in carbon-fibre, for example.

“I think that dynamically, people are going to be surprised by how good the VF is,” he said. “And it looks fantastic.” Mr Devereux also revealed that an announcement on the future of Holden’s Australian manufacturing operations beyond the VF series was “more likely to be weeks than months” away.

Apart from a new look, the 2014 model will get lightweight components – developed with the aid of a $39.8 million federal government Green Car Innovation Fund grant – to reduce fuel consumption by about seven per cent.

Work on that light-weighting program has been going on in parallel with the overall development of the VF Commodore, which is Holden’s first new large car since the current VE Commodore was launched in 2006.

The VF – which will retain a modified version of the locally developed rear-drive Zeta platform – is expected to be the first Australian-built car to get mass-produced aluminium panels as a result of the $160 million program.

As well, electric-assisted power steering and improved aerodynamics are expected to be in the mix of solutions to cut fuel consumption.

Mr Devereux said his boss, GM vice-president and president of GM International Operations Tim Lee, had been shown the VF on a recent visit to Melbourne.

Although Mr Devereux declined to say exactly when the new model would be launched, he indicated that media speculation that the VF would be a 2014 model was not far from the mark.

That could mean the VF will appear in 2013 – perhaps as early as next year’s Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in July – and enter production in the third quarter.

The dedicated LPG V6 engine just launched in the current Commodore is expected to be carried over into the new model, meaning even greater fuel economy savings and lower CO2 emissions thanks to the lighter VF body.

While Holden is on the home straight in its VF Commodore program, three-way discussions continue between the federal government, Holden and Holden’s parent company General Motors on proposed government co-investment to secure future Australian production of Holden cars at Elizabeth, in South Australia.

Mr Devereux said “rhetoric is still going back and forth”, but that an agreement was near and an announcement was “more likely to be weeks than months” away.

Mr Devereux said a decision on investment on one of Holden’s two models – the Cruze – was more urgent that the other (Commodore or another model to replace it), because it was due to be changed sooner.

The upcoming VF Commodore might well be the final rear-drive Holden large car when it reaches the end of its life in the latter years of this decade, with GM looking at alternatives that will better meet the demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

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