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by Daniel DeGasperi

The vice president of global manufacturing and president of international operations for General Motors, Tim Lee, has said in an interview at the Detroit auto show that he is confident in the Holden local manufacturing plan approved to 2022, yet is unwilling to confirm the future of the Commodore beyond the current VE/VF generation.

This is despite Holden confirming that one of the two platforms it will build beyond the VE/VF’s expected retirement in 2018 is the next generation Holden Cruze small car. Based on the current government co-investment scheme the Cruze and another unconfirmed car will be built until 2022.

Lee calls building the Cruze “a no brainer” but insists that there is still some flexibility with what will be built on the second line. The official announcement about the second car, however, won’t be made until at least 2015.

Holden Cruze

“We’ve got a range of options,” said Lee. “Whether it’s one car, two cars, three cars [variants based on the second platform]. We’re going to do what’s right for the customer in Australia…

“What we do with the second product line is still [up in the air]… as to what it’s going to be, we don’t know.”

Whether Commodore will continue in some form or be replaced with another model remains a well-guarded secret, however Lee says that the badge value is very important in the consideration process.

Holden VE Commodore Range

“The Commodore badge.. the brand equity of Commodore… is a significant piece of our consideration [of what car to build], that’s for sure. Clearly it’s got value.

“I would say that the Commodore badge means something to Australians… I wouldn’t want to put a Commodore badge on a Barina-type vehicle, that’s for sure.”

Could the Commodore badge be used on a front-wheel-drive vehicle? “Maybe, who knows… I guess anything’s possible.

“If you want a great towing package… we’ve got Colorado, we’ve got Trailblazer, we’ve got next-gen large car, whatever it may be…”

While the current VE/VF rear-drive architecture will be obsolete within three years, Lee confirmed that the current Cadillac ATS rear-drive platform is “absolutely” a ‘global’ architecture, and that Holden could “absolutely” use that platform for its second line – one of the requirements of the two next generations of locally manufactured vehicles is that they are produced on platforms shared around the GM world.

Cadillac ATS

“We have in place a [global] rear wheel drive architecture, you saw it on stage today [Cadillac ATS],” said Lee. The operations boss did, however, reiterate that the Cadillac platform is a mid-sized platform, not intended for a large car like the current Commodore.

It would mean that if a next generation Commodore were to be built, it would all but certainly be a downsized model.

The strongly rumoured option is that Commodore will be dropped beyond the soon-to-be-launched VF generation (comgen pictured below), however that is a suggestion Lee refuses to confirm or deny.

“You didn’t hear that across my lips… You’re assuming a premise [that Commodore will be dropped] we’re just not ready to commit to at this point.”

Holden VF Commodore/Chevy SS - Comgen

Lee is emphatic that the focus is on making VF Commodore successful again.

“We’ve got a major launch coming up of the current job. We’ve got to sell the hell out of what we’re investing in right now… We’re putting a s**tload of money into the current series. We want to sell these babies…

Lee also says that the current decade-long plan is a good business case that doesn’t make it hard for GM to justify its Australian operations.

“It’s not hard at all when you look at the plan today. We are very bullish on the operation. If that [being hard to justify the operations] was the case, I wouldn’t have taken our plan to the board.

“I’m really, really optimistic that when you see the plan rolled out and executed… these kinda conversations will be in memory.

“We’ve signed a co-investment deal which we think makes our business proposition attractive. We intend to execute that plan.”

  • Declan Collins

    If the Commodore does move to the Alpha platform, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be downsized as the full size CTS will be on this platform.

    However, this platform is a premium platform and I cant see them keeping costs in check for a cheaper full size car such as the Commodore. Though in 5 more years, maybe engineering costs will be covered allowing cheaper production.

    I dislike his comment saying if you want to tow anything get a truck or suv, some of us want a family car we can drive that also has the ability to tow when needed. 

    I can see the VF Commodore being quite advanced, especially if it is being sold as a premium sports sedan in the US market. Fingers crossed, can’t wait for the reveal.

    • Karl Sass

      I completely agree with you Declan. My money is squarely on the Alpha platform, they’ve already used it for the Torana TT36 concept. There is a huge market for a RWD mid size vehicle, not everyone wants an SUV, although you could build one off this platform anyway.  
      Besides, it’ll just be like the Commodore going back to its original size.

      I think they’ll position it not only as a larger alternative to the Cruze, but as a premium one too. They need something with higher margins. If there’s a long wheel base option (like with the Caprice), they can still serve the medium/large segment.

      • Sydlocal

         Going back to its original size? The Cruze is already there! 😉

        It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

        • Karl Sass

          Not exactly the original size, but you get what I’m on about. 
          Going down a size would attract new customers who see it as too large and Holden could play the ‘heritage’ card to bring the fan base with them.

    • Schah7

       With a bit of luck, they’ll bury the “Thing”.

      • Aussie and proud

        Maybe we bury you hey!!!!!!!

      • Zaccy16

        hopefully we won’t have to ever see a crapadore after 2017!

        • Zaccy

          Not a comment I would expect from CarAdvice ‘Top 1′ status. For shame.

        • Sam

          Quite a shameful thing to say actually…

        • DoulbeBlue

           Yes Please.!

  • tsport100

    With petrol at $1.50/litre today what will the price be in 2018? $2.50/L?? The market for large cars is already dying, given another 5 years it will most likely be on life support (some may argue it already is)

    If drivers ‘need’ the torque of a V6 then manufacturers will increasingly provide that with electric motors (the Holden Volt’s 368 Nm is equal to the Commodores 3.5 lt quad-cam V6). Given another 5 years battery prices for EVs will have dropped significantly making a plug-in hybrid like the Volt a viable option!

    • Ubyvy

      Is the Volt faster than the SV6??

      • tsport100

        Why does it have to be faster? 

        Considering the SV6 is powered by a 210 kw 3.6 Lt V6 and the Volt’s ICE power plant is a 63 kw 1.4Lt 4 cyl…. they both do 0-100 in around 8 seconds. 

        The killer is the Volt can use as little as 1.2L/100km in City driving… or no fuel at all for trips up to 80 kms. The SV6 uses 13.5 L/100km in City driving.

    • Golfschwein

      And I wonder if the 3 litre V6’s claimed/actual shortcomings can be cured by ditching it in favour of a turbocharged 2.8 litre version, same as Holden supplies Opel?

      • Barry

        Good comment Golfy,thats a must have in the VF.

      • Zaccy16

        they definitely need to dump the torque-less thrashy unrefined 3.0 for the turbo but knowing holden and gm they won’t bother to put a decent engine in it

      • Karl Sass

        I’ve often wondered the same. The 3.0 litre engine was a big mistake, they should’ve stayed with the low and high output tune of the 3.6 litre for the extra torque. They could do a similar low and high tune with the 2.8 turbo engine, although I wonder if it’s too expensive for a base model.

        • Golfschwein

          I must be the only person who likes the 3 litre, Karl. Driving it appears to be little different to another favourite 3 litre, my old VL company car. Similar sound, similar power delivery. If it wasn’t before, it is now apparently blown out of the water by the ecoboost in the Falcon.

        • F1orce

          The problem is that GM just cannot make good engines..

          Look at Toyota and Lexus, their V6 engines are so so smooth that they feel smoother than electric motors..

          The way the 2.5L, 3.0L & 3.5L V6 make power is just so linear and has no abruption in power delivery, they are very high tech, smooth, efficient, powerful and reliable.

          The Lexus IS250 has a very small 2.5L V6. Yet it’s incredibly smooth powerplant with a nice soundtrack when you give it the revs. It just has 252Nm, yet it takes the 1620KG IS250 from 0-100km/h in less than 8 seconds

          • Agf

             Wrong as usual F1.

            Wheels Magazine and others have tested the IS250, it took 8.8 secs 0-100kmh and 16.3 secs 0-400m  in their Jan 06 edition & they tested another one in the July issue and it got the same figures as the first one.
            It’s also extremely thirsty for what should be a high end engine that’s only 2.5L in size. The old BMW 325i which was discontiuned several years ago, had a little more power than the IS250 yet had a 8.3L100km economy against 9.1L for the IS250. BMW has of course moved on to a far more powerful & fuel efficient 328i since then whilst Lexus sits on their hands.
            The IS250 is a absolute dinosaur in terms of efficiency. Your bagging the GM/Commodore engine whilst claiming the IS250 is efficient…..do you realise the Commodore 3.0 V6 uses less fuel than the IS250 and it does it on E10 fuel and it has more power and it hauls a heavier body?

          • Zaccy16

            The commodore 3.0 can’t get anywhere near its claimed fuel cons sticker because you need to rev the torque less engine to get any performance out of it!

          • Agf

             @Zaccy16, for normal driving, Crummer 3.0 has plenty of performance without any need to rev the engine. Normal traffic flow does not run to 60kmh in 5 secs or 0-100kmh in 8.5 secs – if you drive like that you’ll be first off the lights every time by a big margin. However for a 3.0 it is pretty weak for outright performance and acceleration figures indicate it seems to under perform but it is still offering similar if not better performance than IS250 for almost half the price.
            Speaking of comparison to the IS250, the base Omega sedan is actually 2kgs LIGHTER than a IS250 (my bad I assumed crummer was heavier) and the Omega offers 290nm at 2400rpm. IS250 only gives 252nm at a super high 4800rpm. So if you want a torque less engine, go get a IS250, its far, far worse than Crummer and you pay almost twice the price!
            Also IS250 needs premium fuel. Normally cars that use premium fuel offer a economy advantage as Premium fuel costs about %10 more than unleaded. Yet Crummer uses E10 and still uses less fuel, so it’s actual fuel costs are significantly lower.

          • F1orce

            Yeah the IS250 does the 0-100km/h in the 8’s.. Now tell me is that bad for a heavy 1620Kg car with little 2.5L engine & 252Nm of torque at ‘super high’ 4800rpm?

            The OMEGA has a claimed 8.9L/100km.. A mere 0.2L/100km advantage over the IS250

            And the OMEGA, despit having a bigger engine, more power, more torque, earlier peak torque, weighs less and is newer engine.. Is slower than the IS250 LMAO..

            Forget about refinement, despite being bigger 3.0L, it sounds and feels extremly terrible and is unforgivingly harsh. Giving it a gutless feel to it when you drive the OMEGA

            HaHahaaa the 325i was given a sack because it was truly inadequate in every respect, 0-100 in 3 min was unacceptable and poor packaging, reliability issues and the poor performance in general was unacceptable and it simply couldn’t compete with the IS250.

            So they made the 318i which words cannot describe.

          • Zaccy16

            Reply to agf, if you compare the crappyadore touts main rival the falcon and it shows how rubbish that v6 is, the ecoboost which is only a 2.0 4cyl turbo has 353 nm a whole 60 more and the 6cyl 4.0 has 395 nm and the Lpi has over 400 torques! That’s proper pulling power!

          • Sfghg

             Wrong yet again F1.

            Wheels tested the Omega in their Oct 2009 edition and it ran 0-100kmh in 8.7 secs. That’s faster than the IS250 they tested in the Jan 06 edition which took 8.8 secs.

            The mere 0.2L100km economy difference in the Omega is actually quite significant. Apart from the fact that the Omega is half the price to start with and offers more power, it gets that economy on STANDARD UNLEADED whilst the IS250 must run on premium which costs about 15c a litre more. So the actual fuel saving costs related further than just a 0.2L100km difference in economy, its also a 15c discount on every litre of fuel you buy.

            Also the old BMW 325i which you claim is terrible in every respect is also faster than the IS250 with the 325i running a 8.6 secs 0-100kmh time, tested in the October 07 edition.

          • Sydlocal

             To Agf. Just as well you don’t have to rev the 3L Commodore engine in ‘normal driving’ because it is so uncouth/unrefined in the higher registers.
            I don’t know how Holden managed to make such a high specification engine sound just as strained and feel just as rough when you give it the whip as the decades old pushrod 3.8L Buick engine the Commodore used to have. A 3L quad cam V6 is small enough that it shouldn’t be so scared of approaching the red line. I take my hat off to Holden for actually making this happen! 😉
            It is also interesting that Alfa Romeo doesn’t seem to have this problem with the Holden made V6 in their cars. It must be the Alfa designed heads on that engine that smooth it out and make it sound and feel like it does because it sure doesn’t sound/feel like they are from the same family of engine…

          • Karl Sass

            I would agree with you in that GM aren’t very good at drive line refinement. They are however, reliable, durable, easy to work on and reasonably efficient. Bonus points for E85. Yes the Lexus engines are very refined, but not so fuel efficient.

          • F1orce

            How are they not fuel efficient?

            The now previous Lexus IS350 has 233kW, 377Nm and consumes 9.4L/100Km

            Which is quite good considering the IS350 is a very fast sedan

            Of coarse, BMW can claim they have more torque and consume less gas with their F30 335i.. But they mainly achieve those figures by being lighter than IS350, 2 extra gear ratio and most importantly start/stop which has a massive impact on fuel consumption.

            And really despite more torque, 2 extra gears and actually being lighter, the F30 335i is not any faster than the IS350

            Some BMW fanatics claim the previous 335i with the N54 engine was actually faster than the new F30 335i with the newer N55 engine ..

            So yeah lol

          • Fdghfgh

            The Lexus 6 cylinders are not fuel efficient because they are by far, THE WORST in the class for economy. I repeat, they are the WORST in the class.
            The fact that the IS250 is worse than the Crummer Omega for economy and power delivery says a lot.

            Motor Magazine had a comparison between the 335i, IS350 and G6E in last year’s June edition. Remember it? You said looked it up. The 335i was quicker than the IS350. The G6E was also quicker than the IS350.

            Also it’s not just BMW fanatics that claim the previous 335i

    • Damian

      Petrol isn’t the driving factor in the market – otherwise SUVs wouldn’t be selling like they are. Simply put smaller cars have gotten larger and their packaging improved. Small car engines have gotten more powerful also. A Camry or Corolla today is as powerful and roomy as a VK or VL Commodore was in it’s day. Simply put the problem with large cars is that everything else has grown up around them and there is little they can do.

      • tsport100

        For 27% of all sales to now be SUVs I think the definition of SUV has been expanded. There’s an entire market for ‘cross-overs’ which in many cases are jacked up 2WD ‘small cars’ that have simply replaced the station wagon segment!

        I agree, the current Corolla is the same size as the original VB Commodore, but a VE is the same size of the previous model statesman, larger than most SUVs.

      • Luke Brinsmead

        Exactly, there is far more competition and choice these days. Look at any previous industrialised countries and a pattern can be seen, little competition and few choices in the beginning leads to an automotive gold rush.

    • Andrew M

      How can the market for large cars be dying due to fuel prices when SUV’s and 4×4 utes is booming.
      Petrol was $1.50 5 years ago, today it was $1.29 as I drove past.
      What trend are you relying on to predict $2.50 in another 5 years?

      Every one has been playing the fuel price scare for the last 5 years. I couldnt tell you how many times I heard “fuel will be $2 by xmas” year after year but it has never gotten close.

      Im not saying fuel wont ever hit $2.50, but I think the prediction is a bit baseless.
      Another 5 years in electricity world could see electricity prices treble, and the rare metals used in lithium ion batteries no cheaper, so I think its a bit of a stale mate

      • tsport100

        Short memory. Petrol spiked to $1.30 in 2008 and suddenly you couldn’t give a Pajero away. The $150 a barrel oil bubble burst and it’s been gradually pushed back to over $100 while no-one was paying attention. These days if petrol goes under $1.30 we consider that ‘cheap’… We also have ‘cheap’ petrol by world standards.. most of the EU pays $2.00+

        A) Lithium is not rare B) it is not a consumable (like oil) it’s a durable product C) it’s 100% recyclable. On electricity prices, while state governments go around gold plating the grid, Roof top solar prices are dropping 30% a year and 12.5% of all Australian household already have it installed, and that’s expected to double this year.

        A small 1.5kw system would easily power average daily driving requirements with a plug-in hybrid or EV… then you’re per km fuel cost is ZERO!

        • Andrew M

          My memory isnt short at all, petrol actually spiked at around $1.50 then fell back to the same pricing trends we see today.
          in 2008 petrol averaged $1.35.
          For the last few weeks its been under $1.30 and fairly stable.

          A 1.5kw system would not power an EV.
          If an EV such as the Volt travels 12,000k’s a year (based on tavelling its electric range only 5 days a week) you would need a 4kw solar system.
          a 4kw solar system will cost you around $7K.
          Now an alternative efficient vehicle running the same amount of K’s would consume $800 per year in fuel meaning the solar system would take 8.75 years to break even.
          Then if you calculate interest paid on your solar system purchase and extra interest on the car loan because EV’s are more expensive its probably only a break even exercise assuming you keep the vehicle for 10 years.

          There is no such thing as free fuel, even if it is from the sun

          • tsport100

            A Volt uses approx 150 wh/km in EV mode. That’s 1800 kWh to cover 12k annually. A 1.5 kw PV system outputs approx 6 kwh/day which gives an Annual Output.of 1993-2263 kWh…. MORE than enough to power a Volt!

            After rebates a 1.5 kw PV system cost between $500-1,000 including installation! It will pay for itself in less than 6 months and provide reliable power for 25 years! 

            Amortise the cost of the PV system over 25 years and it equates to an Annual ‘fuel’ bill of $20 – 40. That’s less than the cost of a single tank of petrol!

  • Pauly

    If they downside to the ATS Platform could they scrap the Commodore name and bring back the Torana?

    • Golfschwein

      They’d want to be careful about that. Torana’s greatness only relates to it winning Bathurst and being a formidable race car. As a road car with anything less than 8 cylinders it sucked. Admittedly, an LH SL with the 173 hooked up to the infamous Traumatic was never going to be a great car, for a P Plater (as I was) or anyone else, but I’d propose that great cars are great throughout the range, not just at the top end. The Torana was the first of my 3 ‘dumb’ cars. My excuse? Dad told me to do it.

      Anyway, I soon replaced it with another similarly sized 1974 car, one that came out in 1968, that was also rear drive, had independent rear suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes, great steering, marvellous ride, superior handling, uncramped living quarters, bigger boot and better performance from its 4 cylinder engine and still remember it with great fondness.

      • Save It For The Track

        Datto 1600 ?

        • Golfschwein

          No, a Peugeot 504 ti. Of all things. :)

          • Save It For The Track

            Ahh. A much loved car by those that drove them.

          • Golfmother

            Superb country cruiser , magic seats .

        • tsport100

          1600s didn’t have rear discs! Pretty sure they stopped making them in ’72 as well!

          • Golfmother

            Yep 1972 changed to 180b, correct me if wrong on the date , rear drums .

      • Golfmother

        Lucky dad didn’t suggest a Sunbird .

        • Golfschwein

          Ha ha. Or a “GO! Little Big Wheels” TA 1300.

      • horsie

        um . except the 6 cyl XU-1 Torana. Which was the first torana to win Bathurst . And Brock’s first Bathurst win.

        • Golfmother

          HAHHA vauxhaul viva on steriods , rust bucket .

          • horsie

            Maybe but still a legendary car

  • Ox

    Just replace it with the Impala already!

  • SASH

    I think people are missing something, they are talking about building a car on two different platforms so…
    One platform will be for Cruze and the second could be Commodore but for all the ones saying Captiva would be built here as the second car and replace Commodore I think are wrong because the next Captiva is going to be built on Cruze platform. What I think is going to happen is Cruze and Captiva will be built on one platform which work has started already in SA, and the second platform would support Commodore. This would keep the plant going.

  • MB

    Why dont Holden build the Colorado light truck here and nail the Hi-lux in sales, all the Government and fleets would buy local over imported every time, Holden could easily sell 4000 of these every month.

    • Captain Nemo®™

      Umm the problem is utes are only selling because of the mining boom ATM   Once the mining boom turns to a mining bust.  Sales would drop off quite a bit.

  • Goodfa

    I think Holden can make he Commodore a success again with a new generation.

    All they need to do is bring it back to VZ size hence a weight saving hence better fuel economy. Offer an advanced 4 Cylinder for people that want economy. It should perform OK as technology has moved significantly forward since the last time they tried a 4 cylinder Commodore. The new Mazda 6 is almost as big as a Commodore and uses a 4 cylinder. The Commodore will have the advantage of a 4, 6 and 8.

    The other thing they really need to do is get the quality and reliability right as currently their products have too many niggly problems.

    Also they should get rid of the Malibu.

    • John

      The Malibu has not even been released yet.

  • Peanut

    Bring back the Torana

  • Bad News

    If Holden don’t make the Commodore after 2018 or whenever Holden wont be the same and i mean it. yer people are buying small and cheaper cars things change and their is so much to choose from but their will always be people wanting a large car made for Australian conditions, trust me Australians wont appreciate what we’ve lost until the Commodore and Falcon disappear, so get stuffed you haters!!

    • Barry

      Your on the money Bad News.

  • exchangestudent

    I would love to see the new VF have the Captiva’s diesel under the bonnet.  According to Redbook, the weights of the Omega 3.0L SIDI, the Captiva 3.0L SIDI and the Captiva 2.2L Diesel are 1618kg, 1844kg, and 1893kg respectively.  Yes, the diesel is heavier, but if it can cope with an extra ~50kgs over the SIDI Captiva, surely it will cope in the 200kg-lighter Commodore?  And while they’re at it, if the 2.4L petrol can cope in the Captiva, surely it too will manage under the Commodore’s bonnet?  Seems a simple solution to the Commodore’s problems.  

    I also like the idea of a smaller, RWD car.

  • eh

    Why do companies think they have understood what the customer wants? … Customers moved from bigger commodore/falcon NOT because they are big but because they were not fuel economical, the only things then were smaller cars or fancier euros where buyer could only afford the entry series.

    Then who also said we want front wheel drive. Another assumption. Buyers bought Camry for quality, resale and service costs. NOT because they love front wheel drive. Did they have much choice?

    So why are Holden SUVs booming, not because Holden buyers don’t want commodores. It’s because for ONCE in its whole history Holden FINALLY has something in SUV/UTE that is not that bad …(think old jackeroo, frontera) and think now captiva , Colorado etc

  • Con

    Holden, use tech from Alfa to clean up the 6’s act, turbo diesel 4 for the normal duties and v8’s to keep the image going. Large cars with smaller economical engines have been successful in Europe for years, no reason why it shouldn’t work here.