Pop goes the diesel

Townsville Bulletin - - Cars Guide -

THE lack of a diesel en­gine could de­lay a Euro­pean Com­modore cru­sade. GM Holden will ex­port SS Com­modores to Eng­land next year, but con­quer­ing the Euro­pean main­land is loom­ing as a much tougher task. Holden’s Ger­man arm, Opel, is test­ing a VE Com­modore to con­sider whether it would suit Euro­peans. The test car was re­quested by GM Europe en­gi­neer­ing vice-pres­i­dent and Opel man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Hans De­mant, who is keen to see how it per­forms on Euro­pean roads. GM Holden pres­i­dent Denny Mooney is con­fi­dent the VE Com­modore range will im­press GM Europe, but says there are some is­sues to con­tend with. ‘‘There are a lot of nu­ances that we re­ally have to look at . . . smaller en­gines, diesels,’’ Mooney says. He ad­mits that not hav­ing a diesel could be a prob­lem, point­ing to Cadil­lac as an ex­am­ple. ‘‘Cadil­lac started sell­ing cars there a few years ago, but re­ally haven’t reached a big vol­ume be­cause they don’t have a diesel,’’ Mooney says. Holden en­gi­neers have al­ready ex­per­i­mented with a BMW diesel en­gine fit­ted to a VT Com­modore test ve­hi­cle at its Lang Lang prov­ing ground, and is be­lieved to be in­ves­ti­gat­ing diesel en­gines for the VE. It is look­ing both inside and out­side the GM global fam­ily for a diesel so­lu­tion. No mat­ter what it chooses, a diesel VE is still a fair way off. If Holden can find a suit­able diesel en­gine and jus­tify the con­sid­er­able cost of mak­ing it work well in the VE, it would take two to three years be­fore it could hit the road. If GM Europe wanted the car sooner and was happy to take a petrol VE model, it is un­likely Holden would have to spend a lot of money to make the Com­modore com­ply with Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions. Un­like the US, Europe’s ve­hi­cle reg­u­la­tion sys­tem is very sim­i­lar to Aus­tralia’s. ‘‘We cer­tainly de­signed the car to meet US re­quire­ments . . . but we meet a lot of the Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions right here in Aus­tralia,’’ Mooney says. One VE Com­modore ex­port lo­ca­tion Holden can count on is the US. It’s ex­pected GM will an­nounce Pontiac’s plan to im­port the VE Com­modore to US at the Chicago Mo­tor Show in Fe­bru­ary. A Com­modore with a Pon­ti­ac­style grille is tipped to be pre­sented when the com­pany an­nounces the plan. Amer­i­can cus­tomers are familiar with Aus­tralian-made prod­uct, with 40,808 Monaros badged as Pontiac GTOs sold there from 2003 to early this year. A sep­a­rate project will see Amer­i­cans drive an Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped mus­cle car badged as a Ca­maro. Holden en­gi­neers have been work­ing on de­vel­op­ing the newage Chevro­let, which is built off the same base as the VE Com­modore. Dis­guised Ca­maro pro­to­types are to al­ready be on our roads as part of the project. The new Ca­maro, built in Canada, will go head to head with the Ford Mus­tang and new Dodge Chal­lenger in the US when it goes on sale in early 2009.

Holden’s quest is to dis­cover the right en­gine to power up its Euro­pean Com­modore cru­sade

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