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Holden jobs protected by GM globalisation

Australian-made: Chevrolet's next-generation Camaro.

GMH's international work is providing job security for Aussie engineers, designers

Holden logo26 Jul 2007

By JOHN MELLOR

THE integration of Holden into General Motors' global large car rear-wheel drive program is protecting the Australian company's 1200 engineers and designers from the usual period of layoffs that follow the completion of a major new-model platform like the VE Commodore, according to outgoing chairman and managing director Denny Mooney.

Speaking to journalists at a farewell dinner last week, Mr Mooney, who is returning to the United States to mastermind the integration of GM's global vehicle systems, said Holden engineers and designers were more insulated from ebbs and flows of demand for their skills now that Holden was linked into worldwide development projects.

In the past 12 months Holden has spent between $350 million and $400 million on R&D, of which 70 per cent was expended on projects for models that will not be sold in Australia.

The most recent project, following the completion of the VE Commodore, was the development of the Chevrolet Camaro to be built in Canada.

Mr Mooney said that as the engineering development for the Camaro winds down, "our next-generation project won’t be far away".

"The Camaro project is now slowing down because they are now getting into production. All the heavy engineering work is being done as we speak. The design work is pretty much done," he said.

"We might be 30 per cent local and 70 per cent non-local, but a year and a half from now it will probably be 70 per cent local and 30 per cent non-local. The organisation is now set up to do that.

"You remember when I first got here we were letting engineers go."

 center imageLeft: Denny Mooney with the VE Commodore.

Holden's executive director of corporate affairs Alison Terry added that "we used to put a whole lot of engineers off when we only did local cars and then we would have to re-hire them".

Mr Mooney said that the R&D facilities in place in Australia would help the Australian car industry withstand competition from overseas, especially China.

"Innovation and intellectual property in the car industry is key," he said. "That is where we do have an advantage here because there are not many countries around the world that have a full-blown automotive industry where you not only manufacture but have a good strong engineering base."Mr Mooney said that not only applied to Holden but also to Ford.

"I have a lot of respect for Ford's engineering base here. I have a lot of respect for their engineers and I quite honestly think they should take more advantage of what they have. They have done a lot with their cars here. I just don't think their parent company is taking advantage of it."

Read more:

New era for GM Holden


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