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Holden ’s self-parking gem

Crown jewel: Holden’s Commodore owes its self-parking system to the Opel Adam.

Holden Commodore large car dips into tiny Opel Adam’s parts bin for electric smarts

Holden logo30 May 2013


HOLDEN’S self-parking Commodore can trace its origins back to one of the smallest cars in GM’s global showroom.

Holden director of electrical engineering Jo Markham said the clever new system developed for the almost 4.9-metre, five-door Commodore started its life as a self-parking function for the tiny-by-comparison 3.7-metre, three-door Opel Adam city car.

The system uses the car’s electrically assisted steering to automatically turn the front wheels to provide the best angle to slip into a tight spot.

However, rather than just scale up the Adam’s self-parking system to suit the more generous proportions of the VF Commodore, Ms Markham said the system was completely redesigned.

“The parking system is based on the one in the Opel Adam, but it wasn’t just a case of adding it to the Commodore,” she said.

“It took us a lot of time getting it to where it is today.” Even so, the Commodore’s parking system will still take up to 10 separate moves to get into a car park that will have a minimum of 1.1 metres of space on either end – small by anyone’s measure.

It’s not perfect, either, using the parking sensors to feel its way into the gap. If you’re parallel parking in between a pair of Barina Spark city hatchbacks, the system will play safe and align with the inside edge of the smaller vehicles, leaving the side of the Commodore poking out in traffic slightly.

It won’t work in angle parking, either, preferring only to mix it with parallel and 90-degree slots, and the driver must work the accelerator and brake pedals while giving the steering wheel time to spin around before making any moves.

The self-parking function is available when the Commodore slows down and the driver pushes a button on the centre console to activate the system. The Commodore’s electronic brain then sees which side the indicators are flashing on, and starts scanning on that side for a right-sized parking space, ignoring those that are too small.

Once it spots one, it signals the driver using the small screen mounted in the instrument cluster.

However, while Ms Markham says the system is the best that Holden can deliver, it is not foolproof.

Under test conditions, the parking sensors failed three times to pick a right-sized gap 90-degree gap, although on the fourth attempt it worked as expected in only three moves.

Holden also demonstrated a radar-based oncoming traffic detection system that warns the driver if another vehicle is approaching while reversing.

It easily signalled that a vehicle, hidden by a box trailer parked beside the Commodore, was approaching.

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