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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.
General Motors’ choice to stop manufacturing Holden vehicles in Australia could have some entertaining consequences for driving enthusiasts in the U.S.
General Motors will keep its Australian marque alive after production stops in 2017.
General Motors might have already come to a final decision about the future of its vehicle manufacturing operation in Australia.
28 of Australia’s V8 Supercars will be competing in the first-ever U.S. V8 Supercars race on May 17-19 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and they have just begun arriving in the States.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Formula 1 race car compete against a V8 Supercar race car and a street car, but to make things more fair this time around, each vehicle was given a handicap.
10.Honda Civic Hatchback
We might have some fancy cars over here in the USA, but there are quite a few vehicles overseas that we can’t help but think are desperately missing from our shores. More than a few are niche market models perfect for auto-enthusiasts, while others are more stylish or practical than what’s currently available in the US. And some are both.
A Holden-sourced hotrod for the U.S. has all but been confirmed by GM after an OnStar slipup and the resulting media storm, but official details are still just out of reach. Even without that information, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the rear-drive Chevrolet SS will be less than prolific.
Not long ago, we reported that General Motors was possibly looking to move Commodore production out of Australia, which would have resulted in the loss of some 12,000 jobs at Holden and affected numerous other positions in directly.
In order to provide GM with an incentive, Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, recently announced that the country’s government will grant the auto giant a government subsidy of $275 million Australian dollars ($288 million) to engineer and manufacture cars in the country for at least another decade.
A strong Australian dollar driven by high demand for minerals and energy, particularly in China, is rendering Australian manufactured goods increasingly uncompetitive in export markets. For GM this presents an issue because the full-size Holden VE Commodore and it’s long wheelbase variant, the WM Caprice, are in relatively high demand in certain export markets, notably the Middle East (where they’re sold as the Chevy Lumina and Caprice) and in North America, where the WM is sold as the 9C1 Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle.
With the strong dollar eating into profit margins and GM already engaged in a global consolidation and cutting exercise, it must be sorely tempting to seriously consider relocating production of these vehicles elsewhere if not dropping them entirely.
Although the Australian Government subsidy will go a substantial way to easing fears regarding Holden’s future, at least in the short term, Gillard is making it quite clear this isn’t a handout. “It is a strategic investment that will boost our economy, foster innovation, build new business opportunities and promote adoption of new fuel-saving and safety technologies,” she said during a press conference to reporters in the Australian capital, Canberra.
The money, which will come from federal coffers as well as the Victoria and South Australia state governments, is designed to ensure that GM will continue to commit to vehicle production at its Melbourne and Adelaide plants for the foreseeable future. As part of the deal, GM announced that it will be investing more than $1 billion at both these facilities between now and 2022.
With a refreshed Commodore due out soon, that has already been announced to run entirely on a GM platform, it raises the question: will more Holden products make it to the U.S. in the coming years? GM already tried, albeit with little success, to port the Commodore as the Pontiac G8, but a refreshed model might do the trick.
[Source: Detroit News]
An old nemesis is making a return to Australia’s V8 Supercar series. From 1990 through 1992, the Nissan Skyline GT-R dominated the Australian Touring Car Championship series, running rings around Holden and Ford V8′s. During the 1991 Bathurst 1000, the GT-R even set a top-speed record that could not be matched for nine years. Finally, in 1992, Australia’s racing body charged a weight penalty and a boost pressure reduction in an attempt to level the playing field. However, that failed to slow the GT-R down as it continued to dominate its last season before new rules that required V8 powerplants banned the GT-R’s entry.
After a decade, the Nissan GT-R once again returns to the stage under the the Supercar V8′s Car of the Future program, a new project encouraging a wider variety of automakers to join the series. What’s more, Mark Skaife, the man behind the Car of the Future program, was a former GT-R racer that won many of Nissan’s victories in Australia during the early ’90s.
In order to meet the current V8 Supercar regulations, Nissan’s race car will be forced to use a generic rear-wheel-drive, V8 drivetrain. Despite the fact that it will not be an authentic GT-R racing alongside the fire breathing Aussie V8s, we do look forward to seeing more and more automakers following Nissan’s example to freshen up the Bathurst grid. So far, four GT-R’s under Kelly Racing will be participating in the 2013 season.
Watch video of the announcement below: