Aussies hold onto Holden de­sign

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

HOLDEN says its Com­modore will con­tinue to be lo­cally de­signed and en­gi­neered, de­spite union claims to the con­trary. Holden said no de­ci­sions had been made on the long-term fu­ture of its top sell­ing Com­modore and it was too far out to spec­u­late on union claims that the next model could be the last en­gi­neered in Aus­tralia.

But the com­pany re­fused to guar­an­tee the longterm vi­a­bil­ity of the car that has topped the sales charts for 15 years.

A re­port in The Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view quoted a prom­i­nent union of­fi­cial from The As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­fes­sional En­gi­neers, Sci­en­tists and Man­agers Aus­tralia as say­ing: ‘‘GM Holden has can­vassed not con­tin­u­ing to work on new model Com­modores be­yond [2014].’’

But Holden spokes­woman Emily Perry said the re­port con­tained sig­nif­i­cant ‘‘mis­in­for­ma­tion’’ and that the com­pany ‘‘has not taken any de­ci­sions yet’’ re­gard­ing the fu­ture de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and pro­duc­tion of the Com­modore.

‘‘We’re com­mit­ted to de­sign­ing, en­gi­neer­ing and build­ing cars in Aus­tralia,’’ Perry said. ‘‘And noth­ing has changed.’’

The com­pany went into dam­age con­trol, with Holden chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mike Dev­ereux tak­ing to the air­waves to al­lay con­cerns about job losses. But the Holden boss also took the op­por­tu­nity to call for more govern­ment in­vest­ment so he could se­cure jobs long term.

‘‘Our plan is to build, de­sign and en­gi­neer cars in this coun­try,’’ Dev­ereux said on Mel­bourne ra­dio sta­tion 3AW.

’We’re ne­go­ti­at­ing with our part­ners to make Aus­tralia as at­trac­tive a place to do these very high tech things [de­sign­ing and en­gi­neer­ing ve­hi­cles].

"The out­look for jobs for man­u­fac­tur­ing for Holden in Aus­tralia is ex­tremely strong. We have two of the best­selling cars in the coun­try: Com­modore and Cruze.’

Holden has long been seen as an im­por­tant de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing hub within Gen­eral Mo­tors.

As well as de­sign­ing and build­ing one-off con­cept cars for in­ter­na­tional mo­tor shows, de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers re­cently pro­duced the iconic Chevro­let Ca­maro mus­cle car for North Amer­ica.

Dev­ereux said for the Aus­tralian au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try to be com­pet­i­tive glob­ally it re­quired sig­nif­i­cant govern­ment in­vest­ment.

He said fund­ing for the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try would ‘‘make it ex­tremely vi­able to do busi­ness here and to thrive’’.

How­ever, Holden stopped short of con­firm­ing de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing jobs long term and where the next gen­er­a­tion Com­modore would be pro­duced, with Dev­ereux stat­ing there were ‘‘no guar­an­tees in life or any­thing’’.

‘‘The bot­tom line for this . . . Aus­tralia is one of only 13 places in the world where we get to de­sign, en­gi­neer and build cars. My goal over the next year or so is to make sure that we se­cure that for a very long time,’’ said Dev­ereaux.

‘‘My job is to fo­cus on what I can con­trol and that is mak­ing sure I se­cure 4700 jobs, and that I get great new prod­ucts that Aus­tralians will love to drive and that I keep peo­ple re­ally fo­cused on en­gi­neer­ing the cars that we are cur­rently en­gi­neer­ing, which I’ve got to tell you is go­ing to be an ab­so­lutely rip­per.’’

Perry said that the union was mis­in­form­ing peo­ple. ‘‘We are re­view­ing our op­tions and it’s been a breach of trust in the union go­ing and talk­ing about those dis­cus­sions and spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion,’’ Perry said.

‘‘No de­ci­sions have been taken about our fu­ture mod­els, the gen­eral news isn’t as fa­mil­iar with our prod­ucts and the union have put out mis­in­for­ma­tion say­ing model year 2014 – that is ab­so­lutely not cor­rect.

‘‘We have to look at what’s hap­pen­ing in the mar­ket, we have to look at en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, we have to look at co-in­vest­ment poli­cies and other reg­u­la­tory is­sues,’’ Perry said. ‘‘So no de­ci­sions have been taken and it’s com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate [for the union] to go and talk to the me­dia about those dis­cus­sions.’’

Mike Dev­ereux said de­ci­sions on where any cars due in 2017 or be­yond would be pro­duced had not been made, by Holden or other car mak­ers.

The spec­u­la­tion adds to mount­ing fears about the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the Aus­tralian car in­dus­try, which has been in de­cline for more than a decade and dur­ing which Mit­subishi shut down its lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion.

Sales of lo­cally made cars have roughly halved over the past decade and exports are un­der pres­sure with the high Aus­tralian dol­lar.

Us-based car mak­ers Ford and Gen­eral Mo­tors are look­ing to con­sol­i­date their global op­er­a­tions and pro­duce cars for the world rather than in­di­vid­ual mar­kets.

As part of the One Ford pol­icy, the long-term fu­ture of the Ford Fal­con is un­der a cloud.

Ford is ex­pected to an­nounce next year what will hap­pen with the Fal­con, with var­i­ous sce­nar­ios still un­der­stood to be in play

Fairfax Aus­tralia

COM­MODORE WOR­RIES? Fu­ture of man­u­fac­tur­ing un­der re­view.

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