GM says forget the four
Holden plans to out-engineer the competition, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE abject failure of the last fourcylinder Commodore— nicknamed the ‘‘backfire’’ — has convinced GMHolden not to do it again. Despite the appeal of a four-cylinder economy drive and the chance to go head to head with the frugal 2.0-litre Falcon in 2011, Holden says it is not considering a baby engine for its family favourite.
Rather than downsize its Commodore, GMHolden chairman Mark Reuss says the company plans to ‘‘ out-engineer the competition’’.
‘‘Dropping cylinders would be the last resort because people still like the power and the towing, all the things that we get with this engine and with this car,’’ he says.
Ford and Holden are adopting different strategies to deliver reduced fuel use and lower emissions.
Reuss says the Commodore can achieve four-cylinder-like economy from its new engines and promises further technology improvements to improve economy.
At the launch of the company’s greener direct-injection V6s last week, Reuss said the company was committed to achieving ‘‘further fuel efficiencies’’ out of its new 3.0-litre and 3.6-litre engines.
Apart from hi-tech engine management solutions, Reuss says shedding weight is also a priority for future Commodores.
The company does have another, smaller capacity, V6 in the wings, though.
GM-Holden builds a 2.8-litre V6 for its export markets and Reuss has not ruled out such an engine joining the line-up.
‘‘I’m not saying we would never go below 3.0 litres, but three is the sweet spot for the architecture, the car, the fuel economy and performance,’’ Reuss says.
‘‘We look at all of those things and the displacement it would have. You don’t rule out any of that stuff.
‘‘Our Port Melbourne plant is the most flexible engine plant in General Motors so we can always do that — and relatively quickly if we need to.
‘‘Right now we think this is the answer we’re looking for and which the customers are really asking for. But this is a journey and we will react to the market.’’
Versions of Holden’s new direct-injection V6s will be exported to GM plants globally and will appear in several different brands, including some Saab and Alfa Romeo models.
GM’s Mexico plant will receive engines for the new Cadillac SRX, and other markets in Europe are lining up for the new V6.
GM-Holden’s incoming chairman, Alan Batey, says he was surprised by Ford’s decision to not build the Focus four-cylinder.
The Ford decision ‘‘creates an even bigger opportunity for us’’ with the Cruze, he says.
‘‘I was a little surprised that Ford did make that announcement, based on where we think our program is,’’ he says.