Apair of new Holden superstars stole the show at Detroit in January. Australian designers are responsible for both the full-luxury Buick Avenir that’s tipped for production in China and the baby batterypowered Chevrolet Bolt.
Both wowed crowds and were chosen as finalists for Best Concept Vehicle 2015, an award that the Avenir went on to take in addition to the trophy for Best Innovative Use of Colour, Graphics and Materials.
The GM stand at the show was crowded with Holden heavyweights, as well as former CEOs Mark Reuss, Alan Batey and Mike Devereux. But it was design chiefs Mike Simcoe and Richard Ferlazzo who had the biggest smiles.
The Avenir and Bolt show the Holden heart is beating strongly in Fishermans Bend, which is one of the few sites in the GM world where a car can be taken from a first sketch through prototype construction to a show star.
Although it was built in Melbourne, the Avenir – a full-sized luxury Buick aimed at China and potential production in future, with a name that means Future in French – was a joint effort with the design studio in Detroit.
It was unveiled in Detroit by Reuss, who said “Australia is really good at some of the bigger luxury cars” as he pulled off the wraps.
“The car was built in Australia at Holden, in their shops, and the interior and the exterior was a joint effort between studios,” he said.
According to Simcoe, a vice-president of GM International Design, the international collaboration that led to the Avenir is nothing new.
“Time and distance are always factors in the design process, but the teams’ understanding of the project brief... transcended the time zones,” he said.
It’s a similar story with the Bolt EV, which is being evaluated by GM as a future batteryelectric city car.
This time, the collaboration involved GM studios in both South Korea and Detroit, with Holden responsible for the construction of the car. It is now one of only two design centres inside GM with this capability.
“Our design centre is no longer focussed on cars driven only on Australian roads,” said Ferlazzo.
“We are a global design centre and, as such, we have the talent and capability to lead, collaborate and support global programs. The products revealed... in Detroit clearly demonstrate our role within GM Design today and showcase the breadth of talent we have here in Australia.”