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HSV eyes Euro diesel

Diesel trial: HSV is currently testing two distillate engines.

Holden hot-shop evaluates turbo-diesel exports for its VE Commodore-based range

1 Jul 2008

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) is working on a turbo-diesel-powered VE Commodore-based model with a view to expanding its export business in Europe.

HSV chairman Tom Walkinshaw told Australian journalists in Melbourne that Europe is “the biggest opportunity that we would have”, but that it was essential to provide a diesel offering to expand exports there.

General Motors has an arrangement with the Fiat-aligned Italian company VM Motori for diesel engines, which is expected to extend to Holden in Australia within the next two years, but Mr Walkinshaw said they were also evaluating a second option in one of the two test mules the company has running.

Mr Walkinshaw has plans to broaden export markets in Europe for both HSV and his Elfin Sports Car company.

He said that a budget has been allocated for research and development for the diesel project, but the investment for an export program would be hard to justify without a domestic market.

“At the moment, with the way the taxes are here, it’s very difficult to see the benefit within Australia for (diesel), but certainly we have to look at it for export,” said Mr Walkinshaw.

 center imageLeft: VM Motori 2.9-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine.



“For export you need a diesel. If you’re going into Europe, you need a diesel, and that’s what drives us to look at it.

“To do large volumes, then it’s essential to do diesel for Europe, but you’re not going to do a car line in the hope of export. You have to know that there’s a core market here.

“At the moment that’s influenced by the price of fuel, but that could change overnight. That’s why you’ve got to be prepared for it. The government could change that and make petrol and diesel more closely aligned and then you’d have to have one.

“So we’re working to be ready to adopt to whatever happens here in the market. These development programs take quite a long time to implement, but there are two mules running with two different sources for the powerplant and we will continue to evaluate it.”

Mr Walkinshaw said that HSV is testing diesel-powered Commodore mules and estimates that an export market of between 2000 and 2500 vehicles would be required to make production viable.

However, he told GoAuto that HSV does not want exports to ever exceed domestic sales because of currency threats and regards a 40 per cent export share as ideal.

Given that the diesel-powered HSV model go-ahead may depend on the Australian bowser price of diesel coming down in the future, Mr Walkinshaw has called on the government to reduce the tax on diesel because of its environmental benefits compared with petrol (see separate story).

HSV managing director Scott Grant said that the company is always evaluating technology directions and admitted that diesel was one of them, but was quick to point out that eight out of ten projects never make it to the market for technical or business-case reasons.

“At this moment there is no program for diesel, but we are evaluating it,” said Mr Grant.

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