Despite its decision to shutter Australian auto manufacturing in 2017, General Motors’ Holden subsidiary will continue to engineer, test and develop vehicles in the country.
The company announced today that it will retain the Lang Lang Proving Ground in Victoria where it subjects vehicles to testing for the Australian market. Holden also announced that it will begin selling versions of the Opel Cascada convertible along with the Astra GTC and VXR three-door hatchbacks. Finally, the Insignia XXR performance sedan will be available with the other nameplates in 2015, none of which the company expects to sell in high volume.
The zeta-based Commodore will still cease to exist when Holden’s manufacturing operation shuts down, and the new crop of European cars will serve as possible performance replacements in the company’s portfolio. But none will measure up to the sort of muscle wielded by cars built on the Australian-developed zeta platform. The Opel-sourced products announced today are all front-wheel drive based and stand as lukewarm alternatives at best. For example, the Insignia VXR will only be sold with an automatic transmission.
General Motors executive vice president Stefan Jacoby summed it up saying Holden and GM are undergoing a transformation. That transformation is quickly doing away with high-cost models that General Motors can’t scale across several markets. But the future might not be totally bleak for Australian performance vehicles. HSV, the shop responsible for turning out some of the most exciting vehicles sold there, is still operating and the fact that product engineering, design and development could mean an engaging albeit different future for Australian drivers.