Holden will be free to cherry-pick from General Motors global automotive portfolio after the closure of its Australian manufacturing operations in 2017.
According to Richard Ferlazzo, head of Holden design, the one arm of the local creative process that continues after 2017, Holden will be free to take the most appropriate models for Australia, whether they come from Germany, America, Korea or, even China. All to be badged as Holdens.
In the past, with local manufacture of the Cruze, Holden was prevented from importing models like the Opel Astra. “We’re been restrained by the need to maintain Cruze assembly volumes,” says Ferlazzo. “And that sometimes hurt.”
The Cruze hatchback, designed by Holden, and sold in Europe as the Chevrolet Cruze, was deliberated styled to look and feel cheaper than the Astra, that’s built on the same Delta architecture.
“We wanted to do more (with the design), but had to leave things out and reduce costs and that didn’t help,” says to Ferlazzo.
An emotional Ferlazzo, deeply saddened by the loss of local designed Holdens, says the studios are currently very busy designing cars for a variety of GM’s global operations. “Ed Welburn sees real value in Holden’s studios and Mary Barra – GM’s new CEO – said it was his decision,” according to Ferlazzo. “There will be pressures, of course, but remember, Holden is one of only two places in the GM world capable of building concept cars. We’re doing some now.”
“Our studios are 50-years old in a few months, and I’d like to find new premises,” he adds. Obviously the loss of around 500 engineers from Holden’s R&D building will make it too big for future operations so the search has begun for new studios, now that Holden is set to become just a sales organisation.