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Now for Holden Commodore from China

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    The Holden Commodore that got away. The next Commodore is likely to be a Buick sourced from China. Artist impression: MARTIN BANKS

The Holden Commodore of the future will be as Australian as the shirts on our backs: it will likely be made in China.

To gain approval to develop a new Commodore, General Motors did a top-secret deal with Holden to pair the next generation sedan with a Buick that was originally exclusive to the Chinese market. Holden won the contract to design the car, which was then due to be built in Australia and China. But now that Holden has decided to shut its Elizabeth car assembly line in 2017, China is poised to become the sole producer of the vehicle.

Documents obtained by News Corp Australia confirm every Holden fan’s worst nightmare: the next generation Commodore will be a front-wheel-drive car powered by a four-cylinder engine. Every top-selling Holden since the birth of the company in 1948 has been a six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive sedan. The last time Holden sold a four-cylinder Commodore in the early 1980s, sales tanked. The four-cylinder Ford Falcon released last year has also failed to boost sales, accounting for less than 10 per cent of deliveries.

Holden insiders are now fighting to make a V6 available as an option on the future Commodore. When asked why Holden would continue with the Commodore badge given that the 2017 version bears no resemblance to the models before it, a Holden insider said: “It’s easier to explain to buyers that something has changed about a car they know, than to say ‘Here’s the new Holden XYZ’.”

The 2017 Commodore will lose its practical box-shaped body and instead take on sleek styling cues from Europe. Sales of European sedans have been revived overseas since they were restyled to look like four-door coupes.

A Holden insider says the new Commodore will be almost 5 metres long and almost as wide as the current car, but it will look smaller because of the low roofline. “It’s about making sedans look cool again,” said one Holden insider. “Audi’s done it, Mercedes has done, now we’re going to do it. It’s the only way to bring customers back to sedans.” Sales of traditional sedans have been in free-fall for 10 years as Australians embrace SUVs in record numbers. The shift away from traditional cars is so strong that there will be no wagon version of the new Commodore for the first time ever.

Read about the V8 engine future after the jump...

Strewth! No V8 mate!

The Holden V8 is likely to disappear from showrooms in 2018, once the Commodore becomes an imported four-cylinder front-wheel-drive sedan. Holden’s only hope of getting a V8 into local showrooms is if General Motors decides to convert the next Camaro coupe or Corvette sportscar into right-drive-drive, as Ford has done with the new Mustang.

The US media has reported that GM is considering a cheaper version of the new and highly acclaimed Cadillac performance sedan that could eventually replace the Holden-built Chevrolet SS. However, News Corp Australia understands there is as yet no approval for right-hand-drive versions of these vehicles. “Detroit don’t want to give up their (fuel economy) credits on a relatively low volume, low profit sedan,” said one insider. 

“They’d rather reserve that for their high profit pick-ups. Then you’ve got the added hurdle of making a business case for relatively low volume right-hand-drive versions. The way GM’s thinking at the moment, it won’t happen,” the source said.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 25 comments

  • the VF sedan is all wrong in the rear styling ,just have a good look at it, the rear bumper, those tail lamps , the boot lid, the number plate location is too high, to me it looks like a CAMRY ,the front is woeful , unless its the sv6/ss /ssv utes and wagons forget it mate, its too ugly, no matter how good it is , I cannot handle the styling of it.

    old man of bellingen shire Posted on 05 April 2014 8:14am
  • are you kidding, the vf sedan is the most ugly and disgraceful styled commodore I have seen, the rear looks terrible, the rear bumper is all wrong ,the number plate is too high , and those rear tail lamps , no way , and that stupid rounded boot lid, looks like a Toyota camry ,the sv6 and the ss series looks alright in the ute and wagon variants, and that's about it.

    old man of bellingen shire Posted on 05 April 2014 8:01am
  • There was really no excuse for Australians to stop buying our home grown Commodores and Falcons. The build quality issues from 25 years ago are just that. The new cars are great cars. But like everything else Australian we have lost our way through our own doing. I can't help but feel that Nationalism has taken a back-row seat. Pride in our own is over. Manufacturing is finished here because too many Australians just had to buy something foreign. The once upon a time lucky country is heading for huge social and economic hardships. There is little employment opportunities for our youth and the welfare queues are steadily rising. The loss of this particular portion of manufacturing and localised engineering know-how is just the tip of the iceberg as far as our future is concerned. Farewell the once great country.

    Once Proud of Sydney Posted on 02 March 2014 10:38pm
  • Reading all this shit makes me sick, you are all so bloody perfect. Go and live in Germany or some other place so we don't have to listen to your crap

    Henry Allan of Sydney Posted on 18 February 2014 6:42pm
  • I think this is great -Its about time Holden started selling some euro-inspired vehicles rather than the rubbish that Holden have always tried to shove in peoples faces. The VF is the first Holden that is starting to take even a little bit of inspiration from the Germans and it was too late. I agree that they should loose the Commodore name plate and call it something that reflects the great styling of this car. Well done - About time Holden.

    Dan of Perth, AUS Posted on 12 January 2014 8:01pm
  • A rep from Mercedes-Benz Australia summed up the reasoning why Ford and GM think RWD is dead and buried - they have too much money invested in FWD platforms. They also said there would not be a benefit in having FWD models C-Class size and above. With Holden and Ford going FWD, it looks like Mercedes-Benz and BMW will have a niche to fill... In fact, the idea of a 4-door FWD sedan only model with coupe styling has been done before for Australia, in the form of the Mitsubishi 380. Somehow, I do not think people are going to identify with a FWD sedan only Commodore.

    Joh Posted on 04 January 2014 10:07am
  • What a lame lame thing to happen, i am so ashamed that that we cannot build our own car here in Australia. Holden, i am disgusted because of your decision. Terrible times. I hope many refuse to buy the so called 'Holden' cars. Were here to stay..what a joke. Former Holden employee since 1998 , left by choice.

    Hetstaine of Australia Posted on 31 December 2013 4:29pm
  • They should just retire the Commodore name and call it something else, why do they need another 4 cyl large sedan, what is different from the Malibu?

    smartalec of Brisbane Posted on 23 December 2013 5:13am
  • good post thx 029 arabidze

    Leonardserm of Mozambique Posted on 18 December 2013 10:54am
  • chinadore or great wall commodore anyone , but in saying that the build quality would probably be much better coming from china HA HA

    dennis bird of western new south wales Posted on 17 December 2013 1:21am
  • chinadore or great wall commodore anyone , but in saying that the build quality would probably be better coming from china HA HA

    birdie of western new south wales Posted on 17 December 2013 1:17am
  • Yeh I can see that selling well.......NOT.

    Dan of Melbourne Posted on 17 December 2013 12:40am
  • The unions will no doubt blame the government but only a fool would believe the union movement was not the major force in the collapse of the car industry in this country. Their 19th century rhetoric and ideals has no place in the 21st century, workers and the Australian public should blame them and only them. There needs to be a change in the expectations of minimum wage factory workers or else Australia will have no economic diversity and solely be a service and primary production economy and no one wants that.

    Campbell of NSW Posted on 16 December 2013 6:49pm
  • Hahahaha ...commodore made in china ? LOL ...sorry ... should spell commodole in 2017 raspberry

    Speedy Gonzales of Outback Home Posted on 15 December 2013 4:35pm
  • Well this calls for a national boycott of Holden for the next decade at least.

    Smith Posted on 15 December 2013 12:47pm
  • Why is everyone avoiding the elephant in the room ! Unions with their incessant and relentless pursuit of pay rises have made this country globally uncompetitive and we all suffer through over inflated prices on everything we buy !

    joe perrone of Australia Posted on 14 December 2013 10:45am
  • Let us look beyond the fog of rubbish being dished up on the demise of car manufacturing in Australia and put the whole industy under a microscope. From early post war years, we have been offered poor quaity, outdated technology products without a gram of real customer service or intelligent marketing. By way of example, why did we have to drive Ford & GM offerings devoid of basic handling safety horse & cart springs, and drum brakes guaranteed to put road users in danger? Compare this to suspension packages and brakes available on European cars of that time - it took Ford & GM almost 30 years to follow the "innovation" of disk brakes into our market. Then we had to suffer a string of early Korean rubbish models. Then we had to see the development and demise of utilities without the benefit of reasonable development strategies. Why did we not see diesel powered and 4WD versions - long before the Japanese manufacturers simply understood and then dominated the market. It would be easy to go on but fundamentally the car industry (particularly the US) proved to be incompetent, poor planners and arrogant towards customers.

    Arthur Dotis Posted on 14 December 2013 10:16am
  • I just died a little inside.

    Ryo Posted on 14 December 2013 9:21am
  • Ugly American cars will never be anything more than ugly American cars. If they do not offer Australia serious sheet metal modifications it will be worse than they thought as sales approach single digit percentages. One wonders if they will even be smart enough to put the steering on the right side, they have gotten so much wrong over so long.

    ArghONaught of Melbourne Posted on 14 December 2013 7:19am
  • I have owned a couple of Holdens. My HK Monaro was a woeful piece of garbage and that's the best that I can say for it. I swore that I would never buy another Holden after that fiasco. But decades later, I succumbed and bought a VT Berlina wagon. It wasn't bad, but the suspension was jittery and there were major gearbox issues. I was glad to have got rid of it. Now I own a Mazda 6 Luxury Sports Hatch. It makes those Holdens look like trash. It's beautifully made, runs flawlessly, has every conceivable luxury inclusion and Mazda is renowned for reliability. And it's very cheap to service too. No more Holdens for me - EVER. I don't care if they are made here or in China., they can stick them where the sun don't shine.

    Ziggy of Sydney Posted on 14 December 2013 7:16am
  • Well where are the unions now eh ? All running and hiding i would say ! Remember the old days STRIKES AT THE DROP OF A HAT MORE WAGES LESS HOURS BLAH BLAH BLAH QUICK SOME ONE CALL IN BOB HAWKE !!!! I was FORCED to be in the union MOST OF YOU YOUNGER READERS WOULD HAVE NO IDEAR OF WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT SAD !

    Geoff Thomas of caloundra Posted on 14 December 2013 7:09am
  • Unless GM start making their cars in Korea and ship them to Australia. GM will be a dead brand and gain no traction. They have to get their cars selling under $30k or people will still buy hyundai's and kia's. Thats where the sales numbers will need to be. They have trashed their most valuable brand forever. If its fwd and 4 cylinder, unless it goes like a v6 it just wont sell.

    David of Australia Posted on 13 December 2013 11:38pm
  • Not once in this whole local manufacturing saga, has the import tariffs been mentioned as a cause of the decline. Because it is!! A prime opportunity for the government to make some money and they won't take it??? What a shame...

    Brendo of Adelaide Posted on 10 November 2013 7:18pm
  • What will Joshua Dowling write about when he has succeeded in killing Australia's car industry??

    Eric Walker Posted on 01 November 2013 12:29am
  • "Holden’s manufacturing future, as it stands today, is not looking bright, not only because of the economic conditions but because its woes have once again become a political football." And also because of the continually negative articles Joshua Dowling writes about the Australian car making industry. Which includes 8 since the 25th of this month.

    Australian Car Manufactuing Supporter Posted on 31 October 2013 5:47pm
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