Holden has received another $38.9 million from the Federal Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) today, with all the money earmarked to reduce the fuel consumption and carbon emissions of future Commodore models.

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The money will be used to develop lightweight aluminium body panels and improve aerodynamic performance. Holden says it aims to reduce the Commodore’s fuel consumption by more than seven percent.

The 2011 Holden Commodore Omega sedan is currently the most frugal model in the Commodore range, using 9.1 litres/100km on the combined cycle. A seven percent fuel economy improvement would bring it down to 8.5 litres/100km, making it just 1.1 litres/100km less efficient than the entry-level Holden Cruze CD automatic (7.4 litres/100km).

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Holden Chairman and managing director, Mike Devereux, said the government funding was essential for the Australian automotive industry to remain competitive on a global scale.

“The assistance from the Federal Government will enable Holden to bring Australian-made firsts in fuel efficiency and weight saving to market and to secure local jobs in the broader automotive industry,” Mr Devereux said.“The success of Holden’s product development program, and co-funded programs like the new locally-made Cruze, shows new vehicles and technologies have to be affordable and return real-world savings for the environment and for Australian drivers.”

An earlier GCIF grant of $149 million helped Holden fund the local production of the Cruze small car at its Vehicle Operations plant in Elizabeth, South Australia. Local production of the Cruze sedan began earlier this year, while production of the locally assembled Cruze hatch will begin in the fourth quarter of 2011. Today’s announcement takes Holden’s total GCIF funding to $187.9 million.

Mr Devereux said along with improvements to body weight and aerodynamics, Holden continued to work on its engine technology, including the Active Fuel Management system for its V8s and Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) technology for its V6s.

“Holden is also continuing to develop other low emission and alternative fuel solutions in our Ecoline portfolio including a dedicated LPG Commodore and E85 flex-fuel capability on the 3.6 litre SIDI V6 engine later this year,” he said.