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Holden closes its last Australian engine plant

Holden has spent the last few months building and stockpiling V6 engines to see out Commodore production.
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist
CarsGuide

30 Nov 2016 • 4 min read

Another door has closed on vehicle manufacturing in Australia, with Holden shuttering its V6 engine manufacturing plant on Tuesday.

More than 230 workers in total at the Fishermans Bend facility will lose their jobs, with 175 clocking off this week. The closure was announced in 2013.

"Holden acknowledges the impact the end of local manufacturing has on our people and their families, across the country and throughout the industry," the company said in a statement.

"We are doing everything in our power to allow our people to make considered choices and help them move onto their next opportunity."

At its height, the plant produced 34 variants of the V6 for local and international use.

The closure comes almost exactly 12 months before Holden shuts down its Commodore production line in Adelaide – mooted to be around 24 November 2017 - and just a month after it ceased local production of the four-cylinder Cruze.

The company has spent the last few months building and stockpiling V6 engines to see out Commodore production, while – in a bitterly ironic twist – General Motors named it the most productive plant in its worldwide organisation earlier this year.

Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard oversaw the final engine build – a 3.0-litre SIDI LF1 - in a ceremony not open to the media. The V6 will be added to Holden's heritage collection.

At its height, the plant produced 34 variants of the V6 for local and international use, including a 2.8-litre turbo, 3.0-litre V6, 3.6-litre V6 and a 3.6-litre LPG engine.

The plant's equipment – capable of producing up to 960 engines a day over two shifts – will be auctioned off, with expressions of interest having opened in August and closing on November 30.

The site itself has already been sold to the Victorian Government for $135 million, who will turn the 38ha area into an innovation hub after reclamation works have been completed.

Holden's head offices will remain in Fishermans Bend.

the engine plant made Holden one of the biggest exporters of manufactured goods.

The engine plant was opened in 1936, and more than 10 million engines have been built in the eighty years that have passed.

Those engines include the famous six-cylinder 'grey' motor that powered the original 48-215.

Significantly, the engine plant made Holden one of the biggest exporters of manufactured goods, with almost 4.5 million four-cylinder Family II engines sent to all corners of the General Motors empire from 1981 to 2009.

The V6 engine was also exported in great numbers; from more than 1.1 million engines built since the $400 million V6 plant opened in 2003 to support the VE Commodore, almost 700,000 were shipped to one-time GM subsidiaries like Saab and Alfa Romeo, as well as to Opel and GM Thailand.

Aside from the Commodore line in Adelaide, Toyota is the last vehicle manufacturer standing in Australia, producing the Camry and Camry Hybrid in Altona, Victoria.

The Japanese company will close the plant at the end of 2017, as well as its recently refurbished engine line that builds more than 100,000 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engines annually.

Which is your favourite locally produced Holden engine? Tell us what you think in the comments below.