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New global GM platform to spawn next Cruze, Captiva

Captiva cousin: The new-generation Holden Captiva will ride on underpinnings shared with the next Cruze, potentially putting it on the menu for Holden to build it in Australia (current model shown).

Holden could produce next-gen SUV in Australia due to global ‘D2XX’ Cruze platform

24 Aug 2012

THE next Australian-built Holden Cruze will be based on a flexible new global General Motors platform that will merge the current car’s Delta II underpinnings with the Theta architecture on which the imported Captiva SUV is built, according to Reuters.

That GM is creating a small car platform flexible enough to spawn an SUV helps paint a picture of what products Holden might produce in the second half of this decade following the announcement in March of a billion-dollar program to continue producing cars in Australia until at least 2022.

Speaking at the announcement, Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux announced “two new Australian-made cars” that will be “world-class” and “underpinned by global architectures”.

The suggestion that both will be underpinned by global architectures excludes the locally-developed Commodore and its Ute/Caprice derivatives, which apart from the Canadian-built Chevrolet Camaro, uniquely use the Holden-engineered Zeta platform.

With the Cruze small car outselling the full-sized Commodore by 53 units to the end of July this year and occupying Australia’s largest new-car segment, Holden is unlikely to drop it when the next-generation car launches around 2016.

13 center imageFrom top: Holden Volt Opel Astra.

Combined small and medium SUV sales are up 44 per cent year-to-date and demand is ever rising, so an Australian-built Holden SUV also makes sense – especially one that shares the Cruze platform and can easily be put down the same production line.

When the time comes to retire its Captiva SUV, GM will be keen to emulate rivals like Ford and Volkswagen, which respectively produce the Focus-based Kuga and Golf-derived Tiguan crossover SUVs.

Meanwhile, the updated VF Commodore that will launch next year is expected to last until around 2018 but how it will be replaced is not known.

Potential options include switching to production of the aforementioned SUV or perhaps a smaller front-drive or all-wheel-drive direct Commodore replacement built on a global GM platform.

Either way, new products built in Australia on new global platforms spell good news for Holden’s design, engineering and development teams, which are well placed to contribute their expertise while adding local flavour.

Anonymous sources from the component supply chain told Reuters the new platform is flexible enough to underpin successors to the Cruze, Captiva, Volt and Opel Astra, with global sales expected to exceed two million units in 2016 and climb to almost 2.5 million by 2018.

GM’s next-generation small car platform is reportedly codenamed D2XX, the name Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith referred to when discussing the level of Bosch componentry in the Cruze with GoAuto last month.

However Reuters reports that GM has officially declined to acknowledge the existence of D2XX.

Reuters says US production of the next-generation Cruze is due to start in late-2014, with the South Korean factory starting around the same time and global production ramping up to full capacity by 2016.

GM has said the redesigned car will featuring new styling throughout, reduced fuel consumption, extra storage and a plusher cabin.

In addition to the Cruze, existing Delta II-based cars include the Volt range-extender EV due to launch Down Under in October or November and the Opel Astra, which hits local showrooms next month.

GM’s Theta platform, used on the Captiva SUV and other similar vehicles from around the global GM empire, has been around since 2002.

Merging the two is part of GM’s strategy to reduce the number of global vehicle platforms, which is important for reducing the cost and complexity of manufacturing.

The locally-built Cruze is doing well for Holden, holding 13.3 per cent of the massive Australian small car segment with 18,312 sales year-to-date – although sales have slipped 5.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2011.

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