Holden’s LPG push

A gas-pow­ered Com­modore won’t be a com­pro­mise, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

GAS power will pro­vide the next eco push for the Holden Com­modore later this year — and a new show­room bait for buy­ers. Af­ter de­vel­op­ing its E85 ethanol en­gines for the VE Se­ries II last year, GM Holden en­gi­neers have turned to a full-scale, ded­i­cated LPG model for the last part of 2011.

The com­pany prom­ises it will be a no-com­pro­mise con­ver­sion that does not af­fect drive­abil­ity, or boot space, but gives buy­ers a shot at more af­ford­able mo­tor­ing.

‘‘The key for us with LPG is that it has to be some­where that con­sumers don’t make a con­scious com­pro­mise when they use the car,’’ says Holden pres­i­dent Mike Dev­ereux.

‘‘To me, in or­der for LPG to be adopted by peo­ple other than com­mer­cial and taxi fleets it needs to have a zero-com­pro­mise ap­proach.

‘‘Ours is a mono-fuel sys­tem. We have a lot of hi-tech tech­ni­cal stuff to get over be­tween now and the launch of that prod­uct.’’

Holden re­fuses to say which of its V6 and V8 en­gines will be tweaked for LPG, but Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles al­ready has a gas-fired pow­er­plant in its fam­ily.

‘‘I’m not telling you,’’ Dev­ereux says to cars­Guide.

Still he hints strongly that the V8 will go to gas.

‘‘HSV’s sys­tem is mag­nif­i­cent. And it’s im­per­cep­ti­ble,’’ he says.

Dev­ereux con­firms Holden’s 3.6-litre V6 will be re­vised for E85 be­fore the end of the year, but he is more bullish about LPG than ethanol, which is at the start of a long and slow roll­out to Aus­tralian ser­vice sta­tions.

‘‘LPG is our big play. I con­tinue to be sur­prised at how big an op­por- tu­nity LPG is in Aus­tralia. We think LPG can be 10 or 15 per cent of our sales.

‘‘If you have a sys­tem that has no con­sumer com­pro­mises it can do a lot more pen­e­tra­tion, even with re­tail cus­tomers.’’

De­spite his en­thu­si­asm for LPG on the Com­modore, Dev­ereux is mak­ing no com­mit­ment for the lo­cal Cruze.

‘‘I wouldn’t rule it out for some deep-fu­ture thing. But not on the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of ve­hi­cle.’’

Even so, he is push­ing for gov­ern- ment back­ing and be­lieves LPG can be a game-changer technology for Aus­tralia.

‘‘I’ve talked about LPG and some sort of cen­tre of ex­per­tise in Aus­tralia for it. We have so much of it in the ground,’’ Dev­ereux says.

‘‘ We need high-value, high­tech­nol­ogy things in our mo­tor in­dus­try. I’ve talked to Sen­a­tor Carr (the Fed­eral In­dus­try Min­is­ter) about it. There is no point in hav­ing low-tech stuff in Aus­tralia. We don’t have the cheap­est labour force in the world.’’ NOVISUAL change to the top-sell­ing Com­modore is planned for 2011.

Sheet­metal tweak­ing is un­likely be­fore the sec­ond half of 2012, al­though more me­chan­i­cal up­grad­ing will hap­pen this year.

‘‘There isn’t a sub­stan­tial up­grade of the Com­modore. There will be at some point, but not this year,’’ says Mike Dev­ereux.

Hi-tech: Holden says driv­ers won’t be able to de­tect a dif­fer­ence with an LPG Com­modore.

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