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by Tim Beissmann

Today’s unveiling of the 2011 Holden Cruze Series II marked a significant milestone for the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

From March, the Cruze sedan will be manufactured at Holden Vehicle Operations in Elizabeth, South Australia, on the same line as the Commodore sedan and Sportwagon, Caprice, Ute and left-hand drive export models.

The vehicle will make Holden the only Australian manufacturer to produce a small car, and – in the 2.0-litre Cruze diesel manual – Holden will also have the most fuel-efficient locally produced vehicle on the market.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mike Devereux, said the Cruze localisation program was the result of significant cooperation between General Motors and the Australian and South Australian governments.

“This is Holden’s largest engineering and manufacturing program since VE Commodore but it’s also a successful private and public partnership which shows what can be achieved when industry and government work together,” Mr Devereux said.

Holden received $149 million from the Federal Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund in addition to $30 million from the South Australian Government.

“Automotive production is the largest manufacturing industry in Australia and we are one of only handful of countries in the world with this capability to design, build and sell cars,” Mr Devereux said.

“Two years ago, during a make-or-break time for our people and our industry, we made the decision to build Cruze in Australia and it’s already creating new capabilities and opportunities for the industry and our critically important supplier community.”

Cruze sedan production has added 1800 new parts to the manufacturing process at Elizabeth, with the roof, body sides, closures, fascias and most of the interior plastics made on-site.

Holden currently produces 430 vehicles per day over two shifts every weekday, and employs 2500 workers at Elizabeth.

Regular Cruze sedan production commences in March with the Cruze hatch to join it on the line late in 2011.

Since its launch in 2009, Holden has sold 43,002 examples of the Cruze, with 28,334 sold in 2010 alone.

The Cruze was the sixth-best-selling vehicle in Australia in January, and is the most popular small sedan in the country. Australia is the third-largest market for Cruze, behind China and South Korea.

The Elizabeth plant joins Lordstown, Ohio, USA; Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, South Korea; St Petersburg, Russia; Shenyang, China; and Halol, India as the sixth global producer of the Cruze.

Between 1967 and 1998, Holden produced more than 809,500 small vehicles in Australia, including the Torana, Sunbird, Gemini, Camira and Vectra.

Last year, 146,314 vehicles sold in Australia were produced locally. The Australian automotive industry is the largest manufacturing industry in Australia, responsible for around $700 million in research and development every year (10 percent of all business R&D in Australia). More than 50,000 are employed directly by the Australian automotive industry.




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