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Torana role call

Even money: Holden is pitching to play the central role in development of its 'Torana', shown here in 2004 concept form.

Gubbey reveals GMH has an even chance of lead role in new compact car

17 Oct 2007

AN AUSTRALIAN-DESIGNED new-generation Torana is odds-on to be sold here, but where it will be manufactured and what badge it will wear remain the big issues following a guarded but upbeat response to questions on the project from new GM Holden chairman Chris Gubbey.

Speaking at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last Thursday, Mr Gubbey said GM Holden had an even chance of playing a central role in the development of a mid-sized rear-wheel drive model for the General Motors world.

“We’re a global rear-wheel drive centre of excellence so we’re in with a shout as much as anyone else,” he said.

GM’s global product development chief Bob Lutz, who made a flying visit alongside GM’s global design chief Ed Welburn to Holden last Monday, admitted a BMW 3 Series-style model was part of GM’s forward plans from 2011 – a fact leaked by the United Auto Workers union following job negotiations in the US.

Further, Mr Lutz said a born-again “Torana” would be an obvious model to be sold by Holden, which under former boss Peter Hanenberger revealed its desire to produce a modern-day Torana by showing the TT36 concept at the 2004 Sydney motor show.

13 center imageLeft: Pontiac G8.

It is understood the new mid-sized GM platform, dubbed Alpha, will form the basis of at least two US-built models – one badged a Pontiac and the other a Cadillac. Mr Lutz said it was logical for Holden to get a version, although which one is still to be decided.

While Mr Gubbey was positive about Holden’s role in the new model’s development, he cautioned against assuming Australia would play the lead role in its development and that the vehicle would automatically be sold here.

“Bob was here, as you know, only this week and it wasn’t just Bob – we had Ed Welburn, head of global design, here – to come and see what we’re really capable of here in Australia. And I can tell you they all went away very excited about what they saw,” he said.

“(But) I wouldn’t really comment on what’s happening with different architectures and so on at the moment.

“You’ve got to understand that we’re the centre of excellence for global rear-wheel drive, we have the home team here, we have the design and we have the engineering capabilities, so an awful lot of work is done here for global programs, so the fact the overall Holden family is involved in that doesn’t always necessarily mean that’s a product that will definitely come here,” he said.

Mr Gubbey said manufacturing of the export-bound Pontiac G8 would see production start to ramp up to its maximum capacity of 620 vehicles a day from this month. Asked if a third shift at its Elizabeth assembly plant or the production of a second model line were options for Holden, Mr Gubbey said: “To put on a third shift for a relatively small production volume is exceedingly difficult.

“(But) we have the flexibility. It depends on the variability of the design whether or not you need to put in a totally separate body shop or whatever, but we have the flexibility to be able to consider those options,” he said.

Read more:

Torana plan backed by senior GM executive

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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