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Holden to keep engineering unit beyond 2017

Global decision: GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard has confirmed the car-maker’s engineering outfit will keep going after the factory doors close by the end of 2017.

New GM Holden MD announces plan to retain engineering unit after factory closure

13 Sep 2015

GM HOLDEN has announced that it will retain its Port Melbourne-based Powertrain Engineering department beyond the closure of its manufacturing operations in 2017, reversing its previous decision and ensuring ongoing employment for more than 300 staff.

The announcement to keep the department was made by Holden’s new chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard, who also confirmed the creation of a new Advanced Vehicle Development team that will be tasked with supporting the GM Australia Design Centre also located in Port Melbourne.

This new unit will include 18 new team members, while more than 100 staff will work in Holden’s Powertrain Engineering and Calibration team.

Mr Bernhard said the decision meant Holden can continue to engineer vehicles specifically for the Australian market, as well as developing models for the wider GM world, including emerging markets.

“This announcement means more than 100 additional Holden engineering staff will continue to apply their skills and talents to local and global vehicle programs,” he said. “As Holden has done for decades, we will export our expertise to the world.

“In total, Holden will maintain a design and engineering workforce of more than 300 people beyond 2017. So while Holden’s business will continue to change, we will retain much of the talent that has shaped our success. Any opportunity we have to retain local jobs and talent is fantastic.” Holden has already announced that it will keep its Lang Lang proving ground south-east of Melbourne – a reversal of a previous decision to shut the facility following the end of local manufacturing – and the Port Melbourne design centre.

Mr Bernhard said that while Holden’s future product portfolio will be sourced from global GM markets, retaining the engineering team would ensure they have an Australian feel.

“It’s important that Holden and its vehicles retain their unique Australian DNA. With this local design and engineering workforce we can provide customers with cars developed specifically for Australian conditions. “Holden’s future vehicles will be built in Europe, America and Asia but because of the talented teams right here in Australia, they will look, feel and drive like Holdens should.” Mr Bernhard highlighted the respect the local engineering team has within GM globally.

“GM’s head of global powertrain Dan Nicholson visited the (Lang Lang) proving ground to address staff recently and to deliver the news personally,” he said.

“The announcement is a result of GM’s increased push into emerging markets and the need to meet global CO2 reduction targets. But I can tell you the decision was only made because of the reputation of Holden’s powertrain team.” Following the closure of the Elizabeth production line towards the end of 2017 and the Port Melbourne engine plant by late 2016, Holden will have about 190 engineering staff – a big jump from the circa-40-strong team it had anticipated when it announced the closure in late 2013 – and 130 design studio staff.

Mr Bernhard reiterated a previous announcement regarding Holden’s coming new model onslaught, and hinted at a big few years for the brand.

“We will have vehicles in more segments than ever before,” he said.

“We are replacing or refreshing every single model in the Holden portfolio by 2020 and have a renewed commitment to our customers. There are big things to come from Holden.”

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