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Country of origin "irrelevant": Holden

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Country of origin "irrelevant": Holden

Words - Ken Gratton

Holden's imported product is global, not Korean, says Devereux

Mike Devereux leaves little room for parochialism when it comes to where a car is built. Speaking in his first official address as the managing director for Holden, Devereux expressed his view that a car such as the Cruze, soon to be built locally, is no more a 'Korean' car than the Chevrolet Camaro is an Australian or Canadian car.

His Camaro analogy is apt, since the Chevrolet is an 'American' car to most Americans. It was designed here at Fishermans Bend and it's built in a Canadian production plant, but it remains an 'American' car. Devereux argues that the Cruze can hardly be deemed a specifically Korean car -- although that's where it's currently built for the Aussie market -- when it's a global design and will be built all around the world.

"The Cruze is going to be built in the United States, in Russia, in South Africa, in Australia, in China -- and in Korea..." he explained.

"That is a global car; our home room for that car is in Korea. The Chevrolet Camaro being built in Ontario [Canada] and sold into the United States -- the home room for that car happened to be here at Holden. The manner in which General Motors designs and develops cars is global and, just like the folks in the States wouldn't say that the Camaro is Australian or Canadian, I don't say that the Cruze is Korean. It is home-roomed in Korea and it's a global product, and that's how we develop cars now.

"Different home rooms will develop vehicles for different parts of the GM world and that's what we're going to continue to do."

Devereux appears to have been already prepped by his PR team to expect pointed questions concerning the Korean origin for not only the currently imported Cruze, but also the Barina, Epica and Captiva. After years of selling Holden-badged Opels in light, small and medium VFACTS segments, the company's decision to source imported vehicles from GM-DAT in Korea has been a bone of contention in the public domain ever since.

Holden appears to draw more fire for its Korean cars than Hyundai and Kia do -- and those two companies are actually Korean. For enthusiasts, Holden is the archetypal Australian car company (albeit American-owned), so a hostile reception from the more vocal supporters of the brand awaits any diminution of the brand image. In this case, that particularly applies to sourcing cars from elsewhere, with the added complication that the source country has not had a strong reputation for build quality in the past.

The Barina (Corsa), Astra and Vectra models sold as Holdens in the past are reputedly less reliable than the Korean successors, so the question goes begging. Why do Korean Holdens draw so much more invective than the German, Belgian (or Thai-built) Holdens? For Devereux, it's a question that's hardly worth a response.

"Korea just picked up another platform and then Europe picked up something different. Where we engineer the vehicle, I don't want to say it's irrelevant, but the country of origin of the engineering and design could be just about anywhere."

For the Cruze at least, it's a concern that will die a natural death shortly, with the move to produce the car at the Elizabeth plant.



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