News - Holden
Holden's future is huge, says Lutz
GM's product czar Bob Lutz shows zest for Zeta architecture
20 Feb 2004
By BRUCE NEWTON
GENERAL Motors product czar Bob Lutz has forecast a "huge" future for the new Holden-developed VE Commodore architecture, predicting it will underpin a minimum of 400,000 cars worldwide.
And Mr Lutz’s estimate on build numbers is regarded as conservative within Holden.
Mr Lutz is at the head of a heavyweight GM delegation visiting Holden this week which also includes world engineering boss Jim Queen and design chief Ed Welburn.
The group was given an in-depth tour of the VE, the Zeta architecture and various spin-off concepts at Holden’s Fishermens Bend headquarters on Monday.
"Holden has a major, major, major role to play in at least one worldwide architecture," Mr Lutz said at a press function on Tuesday at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground.
"It’s potential could be huge. We’re talking rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, V6, V8. Some of the plans are still very fuzzy, but if you look at the European potential, the Asian potential, Holden and the United States and it could be 400,000." At least some of GM’s plans for the architecture codenamed Zeta – which will be first employed under a production car when the all-new VE Commodore is launched in the first half of 2006 – could be announced as soon as the second quarter of 2004.
That date was mooted by new Holden managing director Denny Mooney on Tuesday.
The announcement could coincide with a Zeta-based Buick convertible show car tipped to be unveiled at the New York auto show in April, although that concept is far from confirmed.
Holden sources say it is more likely that Zeta’s global role will be first announced in Australia. The Zeta architecture will be manufactured in Australia under VE Comm-odore, its derivatives and exports, in the US under Buicks, Chevrolets and Pontiacs, and is also under consideration to underpin a forthcoming Opel large car and the replacement for the Saab 9-5 luxury model.
The first foreign model expected to emerge is a Buick sedan late in 2006.
Holden already exports Commodores, Monaros and long wheelbase cars as Chevs and Pontiacs to various export markets, the best known being the Pontiac GTO.
The difference with Zeta is the architecture technology would be primarily exported for overseas manufacture and the sheetmetal on top would not necessarily bear any resemblance to a Holden.
Asked about Mr Lutz’s 400,000 build estimate, Mr Mooney responded: "It could be more than that, 400,000 isn’t even two plants. You’ve got to remember a plant in North America in a two-shift operation will run about 240,000 units, a three-shift operation will do over 300,000.
"I think that (Lutz estimate) is conservative."
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