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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Holden News

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Last tango for 'Victor Zulu'

Holden's final VZ model, a white Commodore wagon, has been built and given a send-off by the workers at the Elizabeth plant.

The VZ was the ultimate iteration of the car that began with the VT Commodore in 1997. 1.2 million units were built on the old line from the introduction of the VT.

Along the way, the VT morphed into LWB models (Statesman and Caprice), Ute and wagon, monocoque/cab-chassis commercials -- including the Crewman dual cab -- and coupe (Monaro).

The model range -- which ran from VT through VU (Ute), VX, VY and finally, VZ -- provided Holden with opportunities to pursue concepts such as the 'E-Commodore' hybrid and the 'Marilyn' Monaro convertible.

Development of a prospective VT-based Buick model that was subsequently cancelled was the trigger Holden needed to start working on LHD export models. To date, LHD exports of Commodore-based vehicles have been a major success story for the local manufacturer -- and look like continuing to bolster the coffers with the introduction of the VE and WM models.

VZ's demise leaves the way open for Holden to complete the migration to leaner production methods and greater flexibility.

Holden's Rod Keane says "from the middle of next year, we expect that half of all the cars we build at Elizabeth will be exported -- under five GM brand names including Pontiac, Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Daewoo and of course, Holden."

The modular production method employed for VE and WM models will allow Holden to adjust the balance of new car production almost on the fly, to suit the differing needs of the various export markets over time.

Holden's homework

Asia Pacific boss, David N (Nick) Reilly's visit Down Under this week further highlighted Holden's growing role in the GM world. In addition to number crunching with new Holden boss, Chris Gubbey (and attending the APEC extravaganza in Sydney), Reilly was brought up to speed on a number of wider GM projects while he was at Fishermans Bend.

The GM vice president would not comment in detail but was happy to share that he had viewed one styling project that Holden Design is completing to 'maths' stage on behalf of GM Europe.

Reilly revealed that Holden was close to complete on the clay modeling for the Europe-only model. And that the Australian operation's expertise and capacity made it a logical choice to complete the project when resources ran short closer to the un-named vehicle's 'home.'

Reilly also viewed a Holden Design project that is set for development and production at GM DAT in Korea. He commented that "Holden will be involved in some shape or form in more or less everything" that GM produces in Korea.

ASEAN expectations

Reilly says the move to more Korean-built Holden-badged products had largely been successful, citing sales and customer feedback as evidence of the consumer's acceptance of the products.

"I'm not saying they've all been home runs yet and we also have to get used to selling that sort of product... But if you look at, for example, Captiva it's doing extremely well -- better than our forecasts."

According to Reilly, both the Epica and Barina are also on or ahead of target (after a slow start in the case of the medium car) with the Viva the main fly in the ointment.

"That product [Viva] is due for replacement in the not too distant future... but overall our sales [of Korean built products] are matching our expectations."

Vive Viva

When it arrives, the Viva replacement will be underpinned by one of GM's new global platforms, says Reilly, but it will have significant differentiation from, say European developed product (ie: Astra).

"We wanted to make sure we had an architecture that was broad enough to be able to take several brands. For example the basic architecture [of the new Viva] will be responsible for a new Chevrolet and an Opel. [but] They are different brands with different specifications -- obviously the look will be completely different," Reilly said.

Handling change

Reilly opined future GM product coming Down Under would be better aligned with Holden's own DNA including expectations about ride and handling and safety.

"Ride and handling is a very important factor for the Australian market [but] it isn't such an important factor in other markets around the world. So we have to adapt the product for the market customer requirements [and] we're trying to do that increasingly with our products from GM DAT whilst at the same time not increasing the costs so that they become less competitive."

"For sure there are customers who will value price most and there will be those that will pay for ride and handling. We have to try and hit the sweet spot."

On safety, Reilly commented: "Safety should be [related] to price of entry -- to a certain level. Our objective in our programs is at least four-star [NCAP]. That doesn't mean we're not shooting for five stars."

source:

http://www.carpoint.com.au/car-review/2797526.aspx

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On safety, Reilly commented: "Safety should be [related] to price of entry -- to a certain level. Our objective in our programs is at least four-star [NCAP]. That doesn't mean we're not shooting for five stars."

I disagree with Reilly on this statement. Auto safety should never be related to price of entry. Each car line should come with at least six airbags, ABS, ESP, active head restraints, and a achieve a good crash rating.

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I disagree with Reilly on this statement. Auto safety should never be related to price of entry. Each car line should come with at least six airbags, ABS, ESP, active head restraints, and a achieve a good crash rating.

I agree to a point. Obviously uber-cheapies like the Aveo, Rio and Accent would become more expensive with all of these additions, which puts them at a higher price point and makes them pretty much irrelevant. That said, I would like to see more new car engineered to get good side-impact ratings without side bags and either tax incentives to companies whose car AND trucks are rated 5-star, as that would help offset the cost of adding the features you suggest or penalties to companies whose cars and trucks dont meet higher standards. The government's standards need to be higher than the insurance institutes.
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I will laugh if it does well. Each crash, despite same angle, speed, etc, have an infinite number of minute variables. That's just science.

Edited by K.C.
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