Holden may export a diesel version of the Commodore to the United Kingdom, according to a report on a British car website. The report, on website Autocar, says that if General Motors sells off its German subsidiary Opel, UK-based GM brand Vauxhall could be forced to source its cars from Asia and Australia. Vauxhall currently re-badges Opel cars in much the same way Holden does with its European-sourced Astra small car.
But Opel’s impending sale has cast doubts over its continuing supply of cars to Vauxhall, in much the same way it has threatened future supply of the Astra to Holden. Autocar cites US sources who suggest GM is investigating a fall-back strategy for Vauxhall of sourcing small cars from its Korean subsidiary, GM Daewoo, and large cars from Holden. Vauxhall could also become a customer for the new Holden small car, to be built in 2010 at its Elizabeth plant in South Australia. The new Holden small car is based on the same platform as the Korean-built Cruze, but with styling and engineering input from Holden. The car is more likely to appeal to European tastes than the Cruze, although it will be a more expensive option.
Holden spokesman Scott Whiffin refused to comment directly on the report. "We're looking at all opportunities, that's certainly true to say, but at this stage we don't want to detail what those opportunities might be or comment on speculation," he said. But the report suggests Holden could play a role in the Vauxhall strategy by supplying top-end, rear-wheel drive sedans based on the Commodore, possibly with a 2.9-litre V6 diesel sourced from Italy. Holden’s performance arm HSV already supplies the UK market with versions of its Commodore-based Clubsport and GTS V8 sedans, and managing director Phil Harding has spoken before of developing a diesel performance sedan for European consumption.
The company is looking at two six-cylinder diesels, one from GM and one from another top-end European manufacturer. Harding is looking for an engine capable of a six-second 0-100km/h sprint time.
Holden is desperate to find new export opportunities after losing a $1 billion contract to supply re-badged Commodores to Pontiac in the United States. The deal, which died when GM axed the Pontiac brand, accounted for two-thirds of Holden’s exports – and a third of its total production - last year. New export opportunities are a must for Holden, which is struggling with slower sales of the Commodore in Australia and its other big export market, the Middle East. The company is also looking at the possibility of continuing to sell the Commodore in the US under GM's Chevrolet brand, with a possible large contract to build police cars. But with GM closing several US plants and laying off 30,000 workers, importing cars from Australia is unlikely to go down well with the unions, who are expected to be major shareholders in the restructured General Motors.
Holden is evaluating a range of alternative engines to the existing lineup of V6s and V8s. They include a petrol-electric hybrid engine, a four-cylinder and a diesel.
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