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Holden's small Christmas gift

And there were two big gifts.

The first came when President George Bush confirmed a financial bailout for General Motors in the USA which should take the company, and Chrysler, through to the middle of next year.

The news means the financial cloud over GM has cleared - at least for the moment - together with any threat to its Australian operation.

Then, on Monday morning, came news of a major new production deal for Holden.

As we forecast several weeks ago, Holden is going to build a small car in Adelaide alongside the existing Commodore range.

It's the all-new Cruze, also previewed testing in Australia in the Carsguide last Friday, which will start coming down the line in the third quarter of 2010.

The Cruze confirmation means both Ford and Holden will be building, and exporting, small cars in Australia by 2011. And that is great news on a lot of fronts, particularly with Commodore and Falcon sales still in decline.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of Ford's move to Focus production at Broadmeadows, or the Holden deal for the Cruze, as they prove the local makers are integrated into their parents' global planning and will be able to tap growing export demand throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

"This is a breakthrough for Australia's vehicle manufacturing industry," says the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

"It is a tremendous confidence boost for the industry and for Australian manufacturing that we can secure this sort of investment in the current global economic context."