The clock is ticking away before the end of the Holden Commodore and the Elizabeth in 2017. But Motoring.com.au says a Belgian Entrepreneur wants to buy GM's Elizabeth plant and the assets to the Commodore to build out a range of rear and all-wheel drive vehicles.
In late November, Motoring first got wind of this plan. The person in question is Guido Dumarey, owner of the Punch Group (also known as Punch International). He has been working on a plan to buy the plant and all of the tooling since GM announced the end of Australian production and the Commodore.
To understand why Dumarey wants to save the Elizabeth plant and all of the tooling, we need to set the stage. In the portfolio of Punch Group is a former GM transmission plant that was bought in 2013 and is now called Punch Powerglide Strasbourg. The plant produces the automatic transmission for the V6 Commodore. It is through this that Dumarey has developed an understanding of a number items and factors such the plant, the Zeta platform, and the support by the Australian government to keep automotive production going.
The report says Dumarey began making inquiries about buying the plant and all of the tooling in 2013. In 2014, he began to meet with government officials to discuss his plans. It is believed that former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wasn't interested in the plan. But with a new Prime Minster, Dumarey may get some interest.
Now at the time of the first report, Dumarey decline to comment on the record about this plan. But as an aside, he said 'the project was at an early and delicate stage and bringing it to fruition would be a massive challenge.'
General Motors said at the time they haven't been approached by Dumarey or his company, and any government officials.
This brings us to December and Motoring's second report. They had a chance to speak with Dumarey and he confirmed his bid to buy the plant and the assets for the Commodore. He knows time is against him to buy up the assets.
“Everything is planned. The next step is to inform all the parties with the right plan, and it happens next year. The announcement is that they will close in the end of 2017. In the first six months of next year we must work very hard to find solutions. Two thousand and sixteen is the key year. After ’16 we must not think about it, because all the programs have started to stop and it’s too late,” Dumarey said.
Dumarey believes there is a lot of life in the Zeta platform for which a range of rear and all-wheel drive vehicles could be sold in Australia and elsewhere in the world. The name would be changed from Commodore as GM still holds the rights to it.
“To me rear-wheel drive is premium," said Dumarey.
“I think with the platform you have from Zeta… It’s the perfect platform.”
Durmarey also revealed that he hasn't officially approached GM or Holden with a bid. Rather, he has been working with the government of Australia to gain support to help make his bid successful. This would explain why GM hasn't gotten a bid at the moment.
But there a number of questions that still need to be answered. Would GM allow Durmarey to have the licensing rights for Zeta and the tools? How much is Durmarey offering? If he does get Elizabeth and the rights for Zeta, how long before we start seeing cars?
We recommend reading both Motoring stories as we have only scratched the surface to this big and developing story.