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Holden to keep its proving ground, rebadge Opel cars

Euro lions: Opel-sourced models are returning to the Holden stable from the first half of next year, starting with the Cascada convertible and sporting versions of the Astra and Insignia.

GM hangs on to Holden’s proving ground as covers come off lion-badged Opel line-up

Holden logo1 May 2014

GENERAL Motors has reversed its decision to close Holden’s engineering operations, including its Lang Lang proving ground, as part of the process of quitting manufacturing in Australia in 2017.

As anticipated, the US auto giant has also announced a return of Opel models to the Holden stable, with the Cascada convertible and sporting versions of the Astra small car and Insignia mid-sizer arriving in the first half of next year with a lion badge.

GM International Operations president Stefan Jacoby announced the moves today, which see Holden follow Ford in maintaining a significant design and engineering presence in Australia for the foreseeable future – and in sourcing an increasing number of models from Europe.

While the 400-hectare Lang Lang proving ground in south-east Victoria – and its engineering team – will continue to operate beyond the close of Holden’s production operations, only about 80 of the facility’s current 130 employees will remain once engineering programs start to dry up in as little as 12 months.

Mr Jacoby said retention of the proving ground, which had been tipped to sell for as little as $20 million, would allow Holden to retain its uniquely Australian DNA.

“Whether it’s earned on the proving ground or created in the GM Australia Design Centre, Holden will keep its proud Australian identity,” Mr Jacoby said.

“This announcement means that, post-2017, Holden will not only retain its Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria, but will host a design, engineering and product development workforce in Australia.

“This is an important step in ensuring that Holden and its products will continue to speak with a strong Australian accent now and in the future.

“Our continued investment in the proving ground and the GM Australia Design Centre reinforces the strength of the Holden brand and the company’s commitment to maintaining a significant presence in Australia.”

As GoAuto has reported, the return of key Opel models under Holden badges has been expected since GM’s European division pulled out of Australia last August after only a year on sale as a standalone brand.

The Astra will make its return in GTC and VXR three-door hatch guise, while the Insignia will re-emerge in VXR sedan form.

The Cascada, which never made it to Australia as an Opel, will also join the stable, in a single model variant.

Mr Jacoby said Holden would make a number of other Opel-related product announcements in due course.

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