By David Twomey
Australia's Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, has revealed in a doorstop interview in China that GM Holden is in line to boost its engine exports from about 5000 a year to 20,000 and to then hold them at that level.
Senator Carr, who has been holding talks with Chinese leaders on expanding Australian industry penetration into China, has also had talks with General Motors Company's newly appointed vice-president of international operations Nick Reilly, along with GM China managing director (former Holden executive) Kevin Wale.
After the talks Senator Carr told journalists; “If we take for instance the case of General Motors’ plant in Fishermans Bend, which has drawn some attention in recent times, we are looking at an expansion from 5000 engines a year up to 20,000 engines a year, and staying at about 20,000 a year.
“There has to be a significant employment implication for Australian automotive industry workers. It has significant implications for the auto supply chain that actually goes into making that engine,” Senator Carr added.
Senator Carr went on to enthuse that there were many more opportunities for the Australian automotive industry in China.
“Now that sort of experience, I think, can be replicated a number of times over in different companies operating in different fields of the automotive industry. It is not just the direct manufacturers, it is our design and engineering people, it is our universities, and it is the CSIRO. There are just so many chances here,” he said.
GM Holden has confirmed that the engines Senator Carr was referring to were from its High Feature V6 (HFV6) plant in Port Melbourne.
That plant builds a range of V6 engines for the domestic market, but also overseas GM customers in Asia (China and South Korea), the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Mexico.
Holden engines currently exported to China are used in the Buick Park Avenue, a vehicle built in China, based on the Holden Caprice.
GM Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose told CarAdvice; “"We anticipate an increase in V6 engine exports, particularly to the key Chinese market in coming years. That's obviously contingent on future model programs in China.
"It's very pleasing to be recognised overseas for our technical capabilities and having Shanghai GM being enthusiastic about the opportunity with senior Australian Government Ministers.
"We very much appreciate the Government's support in promoting our expertise to important overseas markets. Once again, it demonstrates their commitment to an Australian automotive industry.
"We said at the time of the decision to end the Pontiac brand, that we would get back out there and find new export opportunities for our engines and vehicles around the world. We're continuing to do just that."