Holden will reportedly implement upgrades to its South Australian assembly plant this summer in preparation for production of the next-generation Commodore and Cruze, despite still having no guarantee of government funding beyond 2016.
News Limited reports Holden plans to make changes to the Elizabeth plant's body shop during the scheduled factory shutdown in December and January, preparing it to be retooled for the new versions of the company's small and large cars due from 2016.
The report says Holden will make the upgrades – purportedly worth $250,000 – this summer because delaying it until a later date would make them more complicated and expensive.
Factory workers are also said to have confirmed the next-generation Commodore – which will be a global model rather than one engineered and developed predominantly for Australia – would switch to front-wheel drive, as has been expected.
Though not confirmation that Holden will continue production beyond 2016, the report seemingly runs counter to last week’s revelation that government ministers expect Holden to end its manufacturing operations within three or four years regardless of whether it is promised financial assistance for the future.
The car maker is expected to have to wait until 2014 to complete negotiations with the Federal Government, with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and other economic decision makers likely to wait until the release of the Productivity Commission’s review into the automotive manufacturing industry, due by March 31, before committing to further support.
The news comes just 24 hours after the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries released a report claiming that the loss of the industry by 2018 would cost the economy $21.5 billion and “devastate” those of Melbourne and Adelaide, where almost 40,000 jobs would be lost.