CarsGuide Podcast #188: Kiwi cars we want in Australia
Episode 188 - Kiwi cars we want in Australia
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The “chlorophyll” green SS V Z-Series automatic sports sedan, which retails for a list price of $49,790 and is destined for a Northern Territory dealer, is the last of more than 350,000 sold locally since it started production in July 2006.
The car Holden dubbed its “billion-dollar baby” is soon to be replaced by the VF Commodore on sale next month, the latest in a Commodore line-up of 15 models that number more than 2.9 million produced.
Holden executive director of manufacturing Richard Phillips said the VE was a landmark achievement for Holden and yesterday's end to production of the model was a bitter-sweet moment.
“The company's first true ‘clean-sheet’ design allowed our team to show the world what Holden was capable of and the result was, and remains, a stunning car,” he said.
“It's been such a great product for us but at the same time we're excited about the future and the entire Holden team is energised by the imminent launch of the fantastic new VF Commodore.”
"The VF is the most advanced car ever created in this country, a car that takes the winning values and trademark driving dynamics of the VE and elevates it to a new level of luxury, technology and sophistication,” he said.
The final VE made its journey through the General Assembly plant yesterday, sharing the line with VF pre-production cars including the first pilot-build examples of the Chevrolet SS - many of the workers involved were part of the team that completed the Elizabeth plant transformation for the model when it began in 2006.
Andrew Shaw, 40, has worked for Holden at Elizabeth since 2002 and was hired as part of the VE preparation. “To be part of the VE launch and follow it right through and then end up in here watching it come off the line for the last time, it was a bit of a spinout and good to be part of ... it's been a real buzz for the last few months. “One chapter finishes and another one begins, this one is so important to get our domestic sales back to where they need to be - there's a lot of faith in this car and we're very proud of it,” he said.
Scott Connelly, 38, has been at Elizabeth since 1998, was at the plant throughout VE and was sorry to see it go. “I am sorry to see it go but I'm excited about the VF - it's a better car and looks great, we have Chevrolet SS pilot cars coming through now as well, it's sad to see VE go but it's exciting to see something new,” he said.
Chris Aistrope, 27, has been at Holden just over 10 years and was a little sad to farewell the VE Commodore. “I'm sorry to see it go but I'm looking forward to VF, all the new technology in it, the feeling in here is good, seeing the Chevrolet SS come through now as well,” he said.
Holden has made more than 520,000 VE vehicles for domestic and export markets since it went on sale in late 2006.
Around 170,000 were exported to six continents, including the Middle East, South-east Asia and the US, where it was sold as a Pontiac G8 sedan - it returns to the US later this year.
The VF Commodore was revealed earlier this year in Calais and SS V forms, as well as debuting as the exterior for the Chevrolet SS Daytona racecar ahead of its appearance as the Chevrolet SS sports sedan on the US market later this year.
The VE Calais V was Carsguide's Car Of The Year in 2006 and motoring magazine Wheels recently named the VE Commodore as the best Australian-made car yet.
Holden Commodore timeline:
1978 - Holden celebrates 25 years of overall market leadership and launches the VB Commodore, priced from $6513, in October.
1979 - Holden VB Commodore scores 1-2-3 victory in the Repco Round Australia Rally in August
1988 - The VN Commodore is launched in August and is built exclusively at the Elizabeth (SA) plant.
1990 - The 5 millionth Holden, a red VN Calais, is produced, at Elizabeth, S.A.
1997 - Holden's new VT Commodore model range is introduced in September, representing a $600 million investment.
1999 - Holden gives the green light for a Commodore coupe and the Series II VT Commodore range is launched.
2000 - Holden confirms that the Commodore coupe will carry the Monaro nameplate.
2001 - The 6 millionth Holden is produced at Elizabeth. Holden wins total market leadership for 2001 and Commodore is the Australia's top-selling car for the 6th consecutive year.
2002 - Holden first US export program is announced - the Monaro-based Pontiac GTO.
2006 - Holden launches its billion-dollar baby, the all-new VE Commodore, in July, after $532 million upgrade to the Vehicle Operations plant at Elizabeth, SA. The VE wins Carsguide’s Car Of The Year.
2007 - VE Commodore awarded 2006 Wheels Car of the Year. New export market for VE sedans announced SS Commodore to be sold in the US as Pontiac G8.
2008 - Holden celebrates 50 years at Elizabeth, its 60th anniversary and announces exports Pontiac G8 sedan and ute range to North America. GM Holden builds its seven millionth vehicle - a 60th Anniversary Commodore - and Commodore marks 30 years on Australian roads.
2009 - Holden announces it will build Chevrolet-badged Caprice Police Cars for the US market, but loses Pontiac G8 export program.
2011 - Commodore marks 15 years as top car in Australia and the Cruze rolls off the Elizabeth production line in February.
2012 - Commodore loses top spot to Mazda3, Commodore and Cruze both finish 2011 in top five.
2013 - Holden unveils the heavily-revised VF Commodore and says it will not be the last to wear the nameplate, despite continued sales shrinkage.
1978 Commodore VB Total built: 95,906
1980 Commodore VC Total built: 121,807
1981 Commodore VH Total built: 141,018
1984 Commodore VK Total built: 135,705
1986 Commodore VL Total built: 151,801
1988 Commodore VN Total built: 215,180
1991 Commodore VP Total built: 111,770
1993 Commodore VR Total built: 165,262
1995 Commodore VS Total built: 277,774
1997 Commodore VT Total built: 303,895
2000 Commodore VX Total built: 207,339
2002 Commodore VY Total built: 241,909
2004 Commodore VZ Total built: 228,788
2006 Commodore VE Total built: 520,000
Total 2.92 million
The last VE:
SS Z-Series sedan in “Chlorophyll” green
List price: $49,790
Engine: a 6-litre 90-deg V8 with Active Fuel Management (AFM) technology
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Power: 260kW @ 5600rpm
Torque: 517Nm @ 4400rpm
Fuel economy: 12.3l/100km combined-cycle, 292g/km