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Exclusive: Holden has designs on two show cars

Following in the Trax: A baby SUV concept based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax is likely to be revealed at the New Delhi motor show next week.

GM set to reveal Holden-inspired concepts at two international motor shows

Holden logo29 Jan 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

GENERAL Motors is believed to be preparing to spring two Holden-designed concept cars at international motor shows, with one of them likely to turn up at the big-ticket New York motor show in April.

The other – thought to be designed and fabricated at Holden’s Melbourne design studios – might even be revealed as early as next week, with an Indian news report suggesting a tiny SUV concept is on the cards for the Chevrolet stand at the New Delhi motor show that opens on February 5.

Autocar India reports that the sub-four-metre-long SUV concept has been built on General Motors’ Gamma 2 platform that underpins a range of compact GM vehicles, including the Holden Barina (Aveo), Barina Spark (Beat) and Trax.

The report suggests such a vehicle could be pitched at the Indian-built Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster in the sub-continent, and powered by the same 1.3-litre diesel engine as the Chevrolet Sail and Enjoy.

Critically, the new SUV concept would be shorter than the 4278mm-long Trax, qualifying it for tax breaks under Indian regulations favouring vehicles under four metres.

 center imageLeft: GM vice president of global design Edward Welburn.

One possibility might be a shortened Trax, with a with three-door design in place of the current five-door wagon.

Interestingly, Holden engineers were involved in the chassis development for the Trax and its Opel variant, the Mokka.

Holden is tight-lipped on whether a concept vehicle for the New Delhi show might have emanated from its designers, conceding only that – as GM global design vice-president Ed Welburn told GoAuto at the Los Angeles motor show in November – that Holden is working on concepts on behalf of GM.

Mr Welburn said at the time: “Some of their work you will see at a couple of shows coming up. All I can say is that there are a couple of concept vehicles that the Holden design studio has a very significant role in, in their design and the actual build of the concept of the vehicles – the fabrication.”

Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux later confirmed that the design team was working on at least one vehicle – including a concept – to be unveiled at the New York auto show in April.

Mystery surrounds the nature of the vehicle, including whether it is likely to go into production.

However, the prospect of GM pitching a Holden-developed concept into the public arena at such a big show would mark a massive vote on confidence in the Australian design team, which has survived the massive staff cuts that will decimate the engineering ranks in the wake of the decision to axe the manufacturing operation in Adelaide.

Mr Welburn said GM was committed to retaining the Holden design studio, on which GM had a great deal of reliance for projects for various divisions around the world.

According to Mr Welburn, most of the work being done by Holden is for Chevrolet and Buick, “with just a little on Cadillac”.

The Chevrolet Camaro, which was originally developed in Australia from the Commodore’s Zeta rear-drive platform, is also in for an update at the Chicago auto show that also opens next week.

United States reports suggest the muscle car will get a new bumper treatment, along with fresh colours.

It is unclear if the new Camaro design was penned by Holden or by GM’s Detroit design studio.

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