The Holden Commodore is not dead – but it may never be the same again.
The boss of Holden threw a smoke grenade during a secret preview of the new Commodore inside the company’s top-secret design bunker this afternoon – by claiming the Commodore name will continue beyond the 2016 horizon of the new model.
Australian and New Zealand journalists had been invited to see the new Commodore – the first in seven years – before the public unveiling on Sunday and its showroom arrival in June.
The event was just about to wrap up when in his closing remarks Holden boss Mike Devereux said: “A lot of folks have been speculating about whether this is the last Commodore … well I can categorically tell you we have already begun working on the Commodore that comes after this one.”
After the speech, Devereux told the frazzled media scrum: “This [Commodore] will run through to the end of 2016. After that time we are going to be putting two global architectures into the [Adelaide] plant, one of them will underpin the next Commodore.”
To make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, Devereux repeated: “There is another Commodore coming after this one. We’re going to build it in Adelaide on a [global] architecture.”
Until this point, Holden had not revealed the second car to be built alongside the Cruze through to 2022 in return for $275 million in Federal Government funding.
Devereux’s statement was news to other senior Holden executives and staff in attendance, who watched-on gob-smacked that the attention had shifted from the new car just months away from showrooms and onto the next model that is still three years away.
Devereux’s comments were likely designed to reverse the perception that the 2013 Commodore is the last – after he told journalists in Detroit the Commodore would be phased out in 2016.
But the reality is that what Devereux has called “the next Commodore” will not be a Commodore as Australians have grown to know it over the past 35 years, 15 of them as the nation’s top-seller.
News Limited understands the second vehicle to be built alongside the Cruze will be a front-drive car, similar in size to the Toyota Camry and to be sold in other countries as a Buick.
“You can ask me twenty times about the next [Commodore], maybe three years from now we’ll have that conversation,” Devereux said before he was shut down by his public affairs minder, Matt Hobbs, formerly of the crisis-riddled Tiger Airways.
Devereux’s bombshell took the attention away from the new Commodore that has been seven years in the making and is less than 48 hours away from being unveiled on Sunday morning.
The new Commodore promises to the best yet but the boss of Holden Mike Devereux stopped short of declaring whether or not it would ever again be Australia’s top-selling car.
“We’re back, better than ever, it’s game on,” he said earlier, before adding: “The time for any one vehicle … to sell one tenth the cars in any country is an illogical assumption to make.” At its peak 15 years ago Holden sold more than 94,000 Commodores, last year it sold 30,000 – in an all-time record market.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling