Holden VF Commodore: all models will park themselves

Every Holden VF Commodore will be equipped with technology to scan for a parking spot, indicate whether the car will fit, then automatically move the steering wheel to reverse park itself into that spot – whether it’s a parallel park or 90-degree park.
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Holden marketing manager of large cars Kristian Aquilina confessed that “it was one objective” to make the auto-park technology standard to combat perceptions that large cars are hard to park, and address complaints that the 4.9-metre VE Commodore in particular was difficult to see out of.

“We just wanted to make this car great to drive.

“Great to drive used to mean going around corners, and that’s still for a lot of our customers, but to women who are bit smaller and drive the car they said ‘it’s hard to park, hard to see out of’.

“So we’ve tried to introduce technology to get around that. [But] the way it looks justifies this sort of technology on the entry level car.”

The park-assist feature – standard on the as-yet unreleased entry car that may no longer use the Omega name – uses radar sensors around the car, and joins four other Australian-first technologies available on selected Holden VF Commodore models.

A Reverse Traffic Alert system warns drivers of vehicles reversing out of parking spaces, or moving from the side of the car to directly behind the car, as an attempt to minimise the risk of a reverse-parking collision.

A Blind Spot Alert feature – first seen on the Toyota Camry and Aurion sedan last year – alerts drivers to the presence of a vehicle in the blind spot by illuminating a warning triangle on their mirror.

Forward Collision Alert won’t slam on the brakes for the driver if a collision is unavoidable – unlike a Volkswagen Up! which automatically brakes if a crash is imminent under 30km/h – but it will alert the driver to the impending accident.

A Head-Up Display function, recently made standard on all BMW 5 Series models, uses a projector hidden behind the instrument cluster to beam the speedometer, tachometer and satellite-navigation readings onto the windscreen so the driver’s eyes are not removed from the road.

As yet, we only know that the flagship Calais V-Series show car will have the four Australian-firsts standard, but the equipment may extend to the regular Calais and SS V – although neither model has yet been confirmed.

Holden design manager John Field explained that one of his three primarly objectives with the re-designed interior of the VF Commodore was to “integrate in a really seamless way [the] cool new technology.”

Out of three design proposals, Field selected the work of Joe Rudolph, who became the lead designer of the VF Commodore interior based on his concept. ‘Flying’ through the interior on a wall-size screen at the virtual reality room at Holden’s Port Melbourne headquarters, Rudolph pointed to how he integrated the safety technology.

“On the left [steering wheel] switch panel are the cruise control switches. Also on that left switchback are some new graphics which are for some new features … forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

“As we then peer up over the steering wheel, we’ve got head up display. It appears further out in the distance, you don’t have to change your field of focus so much. It’s customisable, there’s lots of different screens. You can have things like nav, tacho, and the ability to dim it and control its height and location.”

“Move down the console and you can see a new bank of switches to the left hand side – they’re for the auto park assist – and on the right is the electronic park brake.”

Rudoph says that moving to an electonic park brake button, and relocating the power window switches from the centre console to the door, helped free space to integrate the new technology while also adding more storage.

Although pricing or model structure (beyond the Calais V-Series flagship) isn't yet released, Holden managing director Mike Devereux was keen to push the value equation proposed by the VF Commodore, which in base form is expected to become the cheapest new car in Australia that can automatically park itself.

“[Auto parking] is available on some other luxury cars, but that feature is standard on every single VF Commodore that we sell … it’s not an option.

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised with the value equation particularly given all the technology in the car … this does feel like a world class car and we’re gonna price it appropriately.”

Six airbags for driver and front passenger, side and curtain, and the latest Bosch switchable electronic stability control will continue to be standard across the range, however there’s no sign of active cruise control.