The birthplace of every Holden built in Australia over the past 60 years – the Lang Lang test track on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne – has caught the interest of a number of potential bidders, CarAdvice has learned.
The property has been listed for sale on behalf of US car giant General Motors by industrial real estate specialist CBRE, who also handled the sale of former Holden manufacturing sites at Elizabeth and Port Melbourne.
A price for the Lang Lang test track has not been listed, but industry insiders have estimated the value of the property to be in the region of $15 million to $20 million.
The CBRE advertisement says the site will be vacant some time in the upcoming July to September quarter, at least three months before the Holden brand is due to be retired.
CarAdvice understands most Holden engineers who were based at Lang Lang have already left the company with redundancy packages.
General Motors reportedly plans to sell the site as a going concern – including its recently refurbished multi-million-dollar emissions laboratory, which was working on US models for the car giant after the end of local manufacturing.
While transport magnate Lindsay Fox has been linked to the property as a potential buyer a number of times – including at the end of local manufacturing in 2017 and earlier this year when General Motors announced it was axing Holden altogether at the end of 2020 – at least two other contenders have also been named as possible candidates.
Vietnamese automotive start-up Vinfast, which is still in its building phase but has reportedly been hiring former engineers from Holden, Ford and Toyota to work on its future models, has also been named by industry insiders as having expressed a keen interest in the property.
Although the company plans to manufacture its vehicles in Vietnam – as rebadged and redesigned previous generation BMWs – CarAdvice understands the emerging car maker wants to tap into Australia’s engineering expertise to fast-track its knowledge and vehicle development.
Vinfast also has substantial financial backing and is run by one of Vietnam’s richest men, billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong.
Another brand linked to Lang Lang is iconic German sportscar maker Porsche, however CarAdvice has been told those rumours are unsubstantiated and, it was pointed out, the company already uses two facilities – Mount Cotton and Queensland Raceway – and does approximately 100 customer track days a year at venues such as Phillip Island, The Bend and Eastern Creek.
CarAdvice has also been told Porsche is heavily investing its capital in future electric car programs, rather than in additional test track facilities.
Representatives for Porsche and Mr Fox declined to comment on the speculation about Lang Lang, and CarAdvice was not able to contact Vinfast.
However, CarAdvice understands if Vinfast were the successful bidder, the test track would likely be used exclusively by the Vietnamese car maker.
If Mr Fox were the successful bidder, CarAdvice understands it would be available to the entire automotive industry, in much the same way the Angelsea testing facility is used by multiple companies, including Toyota, Ford, Bosch, Iveco and defence suppliers, among others.
Holden’s Lang Lang site would add to an already impressive portfolio of motoring properties for the transport magnate.
Mr Fox already owns the nearby Phillip Island Raceway, and the 1141-hectare Anglesea vehicle assessment facility 125km south-west of Melbourne.
Holden’s 877-hectare site near the town of Lang Lang – about 90km south-east of Melbourne – has a 44km network of roads, including a 4.7km four-lane high-speed oval, a 5.5km ride and handling course, a 1.8km noise testing stretch with “rumble strips” and tram lines, and a 100-metre diameter skid pan.
The test track also has “rattle and squeak” obstacles, an off-road test area, and deep water crossings.
The CBRE advertisement for the property says the Lang Lang test track also has 18km of perimeter fencing.
As reported previously, Holden spent $15.9 million updating the facility – which also has an emissions lab – in 2018.
It was previously thought the Lang Lang test track could survive the shutdown of Holden as a brand because most of its contract work in recent years has been for General Motors in Detroit.
However, the Lang Lang facility will be sold with the exit of Holden from Australia and New Zealand by the end of this year.
Holden’s test track opened in 1957 and celebrated its 60th anniversary the same year the company ended local manufacturing, in 2017.
It has been the birthplace for generations of locally-made cars that were torture tested there before the new models went into production and made it to showrooms.
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