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Frankfurt show: End of line for Holden V8 sedans

Last drinks: The latest V8 Commodore will be the last, as GM plans to downsize powertrains and axe rear-wheel-drive sedans in the Holden range.

GM International boss says Australian motorists should get over V8s and go turbo

Holden logo16 Sep 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in FRANKFURT

THE General Motors executive who took responsibility for pulling the trigger on Holden’s doomed manufacturing operations in Australia now has V8 sedans in his crosshairs.

President of GM International – the division that includes Australia’s GM Holden – Stefan Jacoby told journalists at the Frankfurt motor show today that GM would not include a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive alternative in the Holden large sedan range once the final locally made Commodore, the just-revealed VF Series II, reached the end of production in 2017.

The declaration came just three days after Holden, with much fanfare, announced its biggest and most powerful engine yet, the 302kW 6.2 litre LS3 V8, in Commodore as part of a final facelift.

While admitting GM had a plan for a V8-powered sportscar for Australia, Mr Jacoby said that for volume vehicles GM had other powertrains that would deliver the same performance and excitement of a V8, but with less environmental impact.

“Of course, you imagine you need to continue with something like that (a V8),” he said. “But the world is obviously changing and the eight-cylinder period is coming to an end.

“And rear-wheel drive is difficult to justify on a single dedicated architecture for Australia, so there are many, many reasons that you should switch to a new technology by really providing the same expectations customers have in today’s Commodore, with the next generation.

“Whether that will be the (front-drive-based Opel) Insignia or not, that’s not announced, but our main intention is to have a true Commodore successor which, with modern technology, is the same fun to drive, with the same command of the road as today’s Commodore.” Mr Jacoby, best known as the GM executive who recommended to the GM board the closure of Holden factories, said downsized turbocharged engines could provide the answer.

“The technology is changing, with more or less the same performance as the bigger engines,” he said.

Mr Jacoby was speaking with Australian journalists on the Opel stand where he announced that the all-new Opel Astra would be shipped to Australia from the second half of next year to ultimately replace the locally made Cruze (see separate story).

But Mr Jacoby did not completely rule out a V8 for Australia, saying: “Of course, we will have a sportscar too, and most likely that will have a V8.

“But for volume segments, why rely on an old technology when you can be much more fuel efficient and much more efficient in cost and the price? “I think these kind of traditional powertrains – and I know they are very charming and very attractive and I like the sound of V8 as well – their time is over.” Mr Jacoby said the Australian market was moving towards European-style cars.

“You can say you want to be the last frontier of the V8, but is that good? No,” he said.

“On the other hand, the market is also shifting to SUVs, and if we don’t understand the market, we will be in trouble.” Mr Jacoby was dismissive of Ford’s plans to sell a V8-powered Mustang in Australia to partly offset the loss of its Falcon XR8 in 2016 and thus soothe local Ford V8 fans.

“I am not interested to learn that Ford is doing that,” he said. “Ford is Ford and we are General Motors.”

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