Holden’s LPG push
A gas-powered Commodore won’t be a compromise, writes Paul Gover
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.