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Holden quits: Victorian design studio safe

Future design: Holden's design studio will remain open despite engineering operations ending in 2017.

Holden’s design studio to continue, with next global concepts bound for NY in April

Holden logo12 Dec 2013

GENERAL Motors has made good on its promise to keep its vehicle design studio open in Australia, despite cutting almost 3000 blue-collar and professional jobs with the closure of its manufacturing and engineering operations by the end of 2017.

While an unspecified number of jobs will be lost at its Port Melbourne headquarters, Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux has reaffirmed that the global design operations at its head office would remain.

More than 100 people work in the design division, which is Australia’s largest automotive design studio and, according to Mr Devereux, the largest single collection of industrial designers in the country.

“From 2018, Holden will become a full importer with a national parts distribution centre and, very significantly, a global design studio doing world-class work – not only for global GM brands, but also for the great Holden brand that we know and love,” Mr Devereux said.

He later reaffirmed that the “globally renowned” studio would continue to work on brands including Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and Vauxhall, and said the team was currently working on at least one vehicle – including a concept – to be unveiled at the New York auto show in April.

General Motors’ global design chief Ed Welburn told GoAuto exclusively last month that Holden’s design studio would continue regardless of any decision affecting the company’s manufacturing future in Australia.

“Design will be there and will be supported by quality engineers,” Mr Welburn told us at the Los Angeles auto show last month.

“The design team there is so good, and we depend on them so much globally.

“They are involved in an awful lot of what we are doing. 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.”

Mr Welburn’s indication that the Australian engineering team would also remain has not come to fruition.

All engineering operations look set to be closed, with Mr Devereux confirming today that external engineering firms would be used to tweak the suspension of Holden’s fully imported range from 2018 onwards.

However, engineering unions are hopeful that up to 100 engineers will remain on the payroll.

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