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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Cruze takes control

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Cruze takes control

Toby Hagon

September 18, 2010

Comments 18

Holden's Commodore could be toppled as the best-selling vehicle in the country by an enemy within — the locally built version of the Cruze small car.

With the new car due in dealerships about March, the chairman and managing director of Holden, Mike Devereux, admits it is a possibility the Cruze could overtake the local hero, which has occupied the top of the sales charts for almost 15 years.

The Cruze's four-cylinder engines — in diesel or petrol — and imminent arrival of a hatchback body style could give the relative newcomer the firepower it needs to outsell the V6 and V8 stalwart of the dwindling large-car market.

Small-car sales account for almost one in four new-car sales, with the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 threatening the Commodore's dominance.

"Will it happen some day? Perhaps," Devereux says. "It depends on how people evolve their tastes here. I'll sell whatever people want to buy."

The Commodore's market share has been in steady decline for more than a decade, as families rush to more-efficient small cars and more-fashionable four-wheel-drives.

But Holden is trying to reverse the trend by making its Commodore more fuel-efficient. It is working on getting the large car's fuel economy to about 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres or less, which is at least 7 per cent better than the just-updated VE Series II Commodore that includes underbody aerodynamic aids.

Devereux says Holden is working on significant weight savings for the Commodore, which could include composite materials and aluminium panels.

At almost 1700 kilograms, the current Commodore is almost half as heavy again as the more-compact original from 1978; safety improvements and extra equipment have accounted for the bulk of weight rises.

Reducing the weight through using different composites will come down to cost, with aluminium panels and composites typically more expensive than steel.

Holden's market share this year is 13 per cent, well below Toyota's dominant 20 per cent share.

"The goal has to be the No. 1 car company in this country long term," says Devereux, who wants his legacy to be "that I led the renaissance team for Holden to take us back to being the best company in Australia".

He says the resurgence will be led by further fuel-efficiency gains from new engines as well as a barrage of new products. "There's lots of segments that we just don't play in," he says.

"We need to fill up the entire portfolio

link:

http://news.drive.com.au/drive/motor-news/cruze-takes-control-20100917-15f5j.html

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