HSV managing director Phil Harding this week vowed the Melbourne-based manufacturer would continue producing high-performance vehicles after the last locally made Holden rolled off the line at Elizabeth, despite HSV's current line-up comprising only Australian-made Commodore-based products.
“Our business at Clayton has been providing excitement to the auto industry for the last 26 years and I don’t plan to stop,” Harding said.
“Our product offering has been evolving constantly and will continue to do so. Change is not new for our business and we will continue to adapt, successfully, to a new operating environment”, added Harding.
HSV sales and marketing director Tim Jackson told CarAdvice the company already had a shortlist of vehicles it may work with beyond the current Gen-F range.
“Yeah, we’ve got our eye on a few things,” Jackson admitted.
“We clearly won’t be indicating what they are… But we’ve got some scenarios we’re pretty positive towards, and I guess one of the good things is we’ve got some time to get there.”
Asked how important it was for HSVs to be based on Australian-made cars, Jackson responded honestly, “I don’t know”.
“It’s a good question… I guess we’ll find out, won’t we.
“From our perspective there will still be a fair amount of local content in it. I think the fundamental point of if you’re making [cars] in a country the perception is hopefully you’re building it for the conditions and the market that you’re operating within, and I think that will obviously still be a key part of what we’re doing.
“It’s the Australian market we will be designing and developing a car for, and we’ll be doing all those nuances in terms of how they like it to handle and they like it to drive, the right styling flavour and all that sort of stuff.
“At the end of the day our job is to put a high-performance car on the road. If that’s built here or somewhere else that’s not necessarily the driving factor, it’s, ‘can we build a good car?’ That’s the determining factor, and we’re pretty confident that we can get a pretty good car on the road in four years’ time, so that’s what we’re working towards.”
Jackson said the principles of “bold design, high performance and technology” were defining principles of a “proper HSV” and would remain fundamental to the brand going forward.
Jackson would not speculate on how the shift from Commodore-based cars to HSVs based on imports would affect the brand’s sales, but said the car maker was optimistic about its future.
“It’s going to come down to how good the car is, that’s our view,” Jackson said.
“If the car’s good enough, we’ll sell more. If it’s not good enough, we won’t sell as many. That’s our challenge, to make a great car.
“We thrive on doing things that other people think we can’t, so that’s an exciting challenge and absolutely we see opportunity in it.”
Jackson also said the company was “not anticipating significant changes” to its Clayton workforce, which currently numbers around 200, when Holden closes its factories in 2017.
HSV’s most recent import-based model was the VXR – a turbocharged 177kW 2.0-litre hot-hatch based on the previous-generation Opel Astra OPC – which it sold in small numbers between 2006 and 2009.