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GM design chief gives 2014 Commodore his approval

Knocking on the 'dore: GM's global design chief "can't stand still thinking about" the 2014 Holden Commodore.

Holden’s VF Commodore ready to roll as Welburn goes into bat for Cruze hatch

8 Mar 2011


GENERAL Motors vice-president of global design Ed Welburn has given the thumbs up to the next-generation Holden Commodore and confirmed that the Australian-designed Cruze hatch is being seriously considered for North American sale.

Mr Welburn – an unabashed fan of the Holden Design team – told GoAuto at the Geneva motor show last week that he visited Australia last month to check on progress of the latest projects underway at Holden’s design studio in Melbourne.

Asked if he saw the next Commodore, designated VF and due in 2014, he replied: “I did, and it’s the absolute right Commodore for that market.

“I feel very good about it. We will have to change subjects – I can’t stand still thinking about that car.”

Mr Welburn refused to be drawn on the possibility of a Chevrolet version of either the VF Commodore or next Holden Caprice for general sale in the United States alongside the specialised Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) that is based on the current generation.

However, he did disclose that Holden was working on Chevrolet models for global markets, alongside the next Commodore.

13 center imageFrom top: General Motors vice-president of global design Ed Welburn, Chevrolet Cruze hatch, Opel GTC Paris concept.

“They are doing work for Holden and for other projects around the world,” he said. “They are a very talented team – very talented – and I want to take full advantage of that.

“So, they are responsible for the look and feel of all Holden products, but they are doing work on Chevrolets, they have done some wonderful Buick work, and I could not be more proud of the work that they do.”

As GoAuto reported last week, GM’s German-based subsidiary Opel has confirmed that Holden designers are styling one of three new models that the European operation will debut by 2013.

The three models include the three-door Opel Astra GTC hot hatch, a small SUV based on the Corsa and a mid-sized four-seat convertible that also could spawn a Calibra-style coupe.

And as we reported last year, Holden put up its hand to design the next Chevrolet Corvette – the C7 – in the wake of its successful work on the current Chevrolet Camaro. It was one of 10 GM design studios asked to tender for the jobMr Welburn confirmed that the Holden-designed Cruze hatch, which was revealed in Chevrolet production form at the Geneva motor show ahead of its roll-out in Europe, Asia and Australia later this year, was still on the agenda for the US.

“I would love to see it in the States, but historically we have not done well with hatchbacks,” he said.

“But with gas prices going up, there might be more of an interest in a smaller, more fuel efficient car that has this functionality, and this is a far better hatch than we sold years ago.

“We will just have to see, and we are looking at that very close.”

It is unlikely that the Cruze hatch would be exported from Australia, but rather made in the US alongside the Chevrolet Cruze sedan that has just been launched there to huge demand.

In February, the Cruze was Chevrolet’s third biggest seller behind the Silverado pick-up and Malibu, helping to drive up sales of the bow-tie brand by a whopping 43 per cent.

Mr Welburn also did not rule out a hot version of the Cruze hatch, saying: “Yes, you could do a hot-hatch version of this car – it would be a fun project.”

He added: “The guys in the studio are always looking at other opportunities and accessories and that sort of thing.

“This is where, with the power of this global organisation, there is so much more we can do – working together to make these cars really terrific.”

The upcoming Opel Astra GTC – a three-door hatchback built on the same Delta II platform as the Cruze – would be an obvious starting point for such a vehicle.

If that is the Opel project undertaken by Holden, a Chevrolet/Holden Cruze version would be a logical next step.

Holden has just started local production of the JG Series II Cruze sedan at its Elizabeth plant in South Australia, with the Cruze hatch to follow in the second half of the year.

The Cruze hatch is also going into production at GM Korea – the source of all Cruzes sold in Australia to date.

The Korean factory will supply Europe as well as Asia.

The VF Holden Commodore is expected to be a re-skin of the current VE platform, retaining rear-wheel drive and a V6 engine.

Mr Welburn’s comment that the 2014 Commodore was the right car for the market is most likely a reference to the retention of rear-wheel drive in the homegrown large car.

However, as GoAuto has reported, the all-new Commodore due about the end of the decade is more problematic, with elements within GM pitching their front-wheel drive platforms as a basis for the Commodore’s architecture in 2020.

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