Kanga loser, Holden cars
Now for the Chinese-built Commodore
THE Holden Commodore of the future will be as Australian as the shirts on our backs: it will likely be made in China.
To gain approval to develop a new Commodore, General Motors did a top-secret deal with Holden to pair the next generation sedan with a Buick that was originally exclusive to the Chinese market.
Holden won the contract to design the car, which was to be built in Australia and China.
A Holden spokesman says the manufacturing source for the next- gen Commodore has yet to be decided.
But now that Holden will shut its Elizabeth car assembly line in 2017, China is poised to become the sole producer of the vehicle. Documents obtained by Carsguide confirm every Holden fan’s worst nightmare: the next Commodore will be front-drive and powered by a four-cylinder engine.
Every top-selling Holden since the birth of the company in 1948 has been a six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive sedan.
The last time Holden sold a four-cylinder Commodore, in the early 1980s, sales tanked. The four-cylinder Ford Falcon released last year also failed to boost sales, accounting for less than 10 per cent of deliveries.
Holden insiders are now fighting for a V6 option on the future Commodore.
Why would Holden keep the Commodore badge, given that the 2017 version bears no resemblance to the models before it?
A Holden insider says: “It’s easier to explain to buyers that something has changed about a car they know, than to say ‘Here’s the new Holden XYZ’.”
The 2017 Commodore will lose its practical box-shaped body and instead take on sleek styling cues from Europe.
Sales of European sedans have revived since the vehicles were restyled to look like fourdoor coupes.
The Holden insider says the new Commodore will be almost 5 metres long and almost as wide as the current car, but it will look smaller because of the low roofline.
“It’s about making sedans look cool again,” says another. “Audi’s done it, Mercedes has done it, now we’re going to do it. It’s the only way to bring customers back to sedans.”
The shift away from conventional cars is so strong that, for the first time, the next Commodore will have no wagon variant.
One that got away: The next Commodore is likely to be a Buick, built in China. Artist’s impression: Martin Banks