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Lang Lang proving ground sold

Holden’s proving ground jewel sold to Vietnam’s sole car manufacturer

9 Sep 2020

THE jewel in Holden’s crown, the Lang Lang proving ground that put to the test almost every Holden-badged product since 1957, has been sold to fledgling Vietnam-based car-maker VinFast.


In a brief announcement today, VinFast parent company VinGroup said it had agreed to buy Lang Lang as “the next step in VinFast’s globalisation strategy”. 


However, the agreement allows GM Specialty Vehicles to access the Lang Lang site for testing and engineering validation of new products.


VinFast already has a research and development centre in Melbourne, staffed mainly by Holden engineers, as its first technical centre outside of Vietnam.


“Lang Lang is one of the oldest and most modern testing centers in the world, belonging to GM Holden,” it said.


“The centre has a total area of 872 hectares, owns a test track system more than 44km long, and simulates all kinds of terrain in practice. In particular, the centre has 4.7km of newly upgraded circular test tracks, and 18km of surrounding fence to ensure secrecy for all tests.


“At Lang Lang, there also has an exhaust gas room, heat and cold room, which meets the strictest standards of a world-class testing centre.”


VinFast credits the complex as being the testing centre of all Holden cars from 1958 and “has become one of the icons of the Australian automobile industry.”


Lang Lang was refurbished and upgraded in 2018 and is now regarded as one of the best vehicle testing centres in the world.


The sale to VinFast represents the finalisation of a broad property portfolio owned by Holden. It follows the sale in 2016 of Holden’s 37.7-hectare Fishermans Bend manufacturing plant for $130 million to the Victorian state government for an education facility, and the Adelaide factory to developer Pelligra Group. This is being redeveloped as a business park.


VinFast said the sale would allow it to “continue the mission of testing impressive new car models coming in the future.”


Holden president and CEO Kristian Aquilina said: “With Holden, this is the end of an era, but the Lang Lang Testing Centre will continue to be involved in shaping the global automotive industry. I am very happy to know that a bright future is waiting ahead.”


The Lang Lang purchase was for an undisclosed price but is believed to be around $15 million.


“The acquisition of Lang Lang Test Centre can be seen as an important step after the decision of establishing Institute of Automotive Technology 2 and opening an office in Melbourne,” VinFast said.


“Owning Lang Lang will help VinFast accelerate the process of autonomy in the automobile industry, closer to the goal of launching new models with global competitiveness.”


VinFast Institute of Automotive Technology 2 director Kevin Yardley – a GM engineer whose previous position was in Melbourne as GM’s diesel project leader – said VinFast's product research and development was “making rapid progress.”


“Therefore, owning a modern testing centre like Lang Lang helps a lot for our activities,” he said.


“Many employees in VinFast Australia are currently recruited from Holden and they are all very happy to continue working here.”


The sale document lists VinFast’s obligations at Lang Lang, including maintaining the protection of the local environment, vegetation and natural landscapes and the support of community land-care activities. 


“VinFast also agreed to host Holden Car Clubs Day and former Holden employees to honor Holden's legacy and contributions to the automotive industry,” the company said in its statement.

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