Holden is in talks with the union body representing its Australian engineers about the future of its local design and engineering operations, which may be moved offshore in as little as three years.
Around 350 jobs may be lost once the VF Commodore – widely tipped to be the last all-Australian Holden – is launched in 2014.
The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers (APESMA) claims that a decision is very close to being made about the future of the Commodore, and that the body must act now to ensure the iconic family car remains wholly Australian designed and engineered.
“At this stage they look like they're going to be removing the design and engineering overseas - we don't know where - and replace it with a medium front-wheel drive car," union chief executive, Chris Walton, told ABC News Breakfast this morning.
“Senior management have confirmed to APESMA that it is highly likely that the 2014 Commodore will be the last one engineered in Australia”.
As General Motors seeks to globalise its operations, it is likely that while Holden’s next-generation large car – due around 2017 – will remain locally built, the car will be based on a global architecture that may be developed in Korea or the USA.
Holden hasn’t denied these claims, but has previously expressed its concern about the lack of government co-investment when the ‘Green Car Innovation Fund’ was abandoned earlier this year. Without taxpayer-funded assistance, the prospect of a locally-engineered Commodore is slim, according to a senior Holden source.
Holden Managing Director, Mike Devereux, says that he is currently in talks with the Innovation Minister, Kim Carr, about the future of government assistance and the long-term future of Commodore. Devereux insists that no firm decision has been made to move design and engineering offshore.