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Holden has confirmed that it will retain a larger engineering capacity than originally planned when its Australian manufacturing winds up in 2017.

The news follows an announcement early last year that although Holden would dramatically reduce its workforce in the lead-up to the end of local production, “more than a handful” of engineers would continue to work at its Lang Lang proving grounds for localised tuning and other projects.

“This is a vital step to ensure that Holden products will continue to speak with a strong Australian accent,” General Motors executive vice president and president of GM International Operations (GMIO) Stefan Jacoby said at the time.

“It will be involved in global engineering and development as well, but mainly for Australian vehicles.”

This week, Holden has confirmed that its engineering plan beyond 2017 will now see “a significant number” of jobs retained, although specific details are still to be confirmed.

“We can confirm there will be a significant number of Engineering positions retained at GM Holden. While this is good news, we are still working through project details and our staffing requirements,” the company said in a statement.

“As always, we will work closely with our workforce as we determine exactly what is required. At that point, we will be able to make a full public announcement.”

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It appears likely that Holden will now continue to play a key role in the design of global models in the General Motors family, thanks largely to recent home-runs with the locally conceived Buick Avenir and Chevrolet Bolt concepts.

For the most part, Holden has revealed little about its business strategy beyond 2017, but traditional rival Ford has shared more than a few key details.

Like Holden, and Japanese carmaker Toyota, Ford will soon shut down its Australian manufacturing operations, with production set to end by October next year.

But, by 2018, the blue-oval brand expects to become the largest employer in Australia’s automotive industry, with plans for around 1500 “highly skilled” roles in engineering and design.

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