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Six Quick Questions - Phil Harding, HSV

Paul Gover
CarsGuide

29 Mar 2006 • 3 min read

1. How is the fuel price crisis affecting Holden Special Vehicles?

"Well, the fuel price has come down from its crisis peak. And if you look at our sales, it hasn't affected it.

"But that hasn't bred any complacency. We're always looking at fuel economy improvements and we are extending our product portofilo. "We didn't look at the Astra VXR thing as a fuel economy project, but it will be more fuel efficient than the large cars.

"Our LS2 V8 engine, our owners are telling us, is around 10 per cent more fuel efficient and that's in our thinking every time we upgrade the engine."

2. Are V8 HSV buyers less worried about fuel?

"I have spoken to the owners clubs about it, and they were almost insulted that I raised it."

3. Going back to the Astra VXR, do you have timing yet for the new HSV compact coupe?

"The firm date is when the boat arrives. It will be either late July or early August. It's locked in.

"We haven't yet finally announced the retail price, but it will be under $43,000.

"The specificaiton is a mixuture of Opel features and Vauxhall features, which is unique to us at HSV, but it will essentially be identical to the Vauxhall car and that is the one that journalists are raving about in the UK.

"It comes in four colours and there is a unique blue on the car that is not availableo on any other Astra.

"We're going to be supplying the market in small batches to create desire and exclusivity. We are deliberately going lower with our orders than what the demand is."

4. This year you've also got the runout of the Coupe. Anything special on that front?

"We're still finalising our plans. So we haven't decided how to give the thing a last hurrah.

"I like the idea of auctioning the last one. But you'll have to wait and see.

5. Presumably you're down the track with VE? What is the core thinking behind the HSV versions of the new Commodore?

"Crikey, we're almost at the end of the track. But I don't want to say too much, because the car is still some way away.

"But I can say that it will be an even bigger change for HSV than it is for Holden.

"I think we've been pretty tight-lipped about what is in it, because there is a lot of change.

"No-one seems to be talking about us yet on VE, which suits me."

6. You have just created a Walkinshaw Performance Products division. What is its role and how does it interact with HSV?

"It is another area in our group that deals with excitement, and that was the arm that managed the Bahrain one-make race car project.

"From that w'ell spin off a whole series of upgrades that we can offer customers to enhance the performance of their cars.

"And there will be more ideas along those lines to explore, not just in this country but also in export markets, that can spin off business opportunities for the HSV group.