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Holden Secures Chinese Export Deal: Local Large Car Industry Fights On

Motoring Channel Staff - 18/Apr/2007

GM Park Avenue - Holden's Chinese Exports
The Buick Park Avenue will be fitted
with Australian-built V6 powerplants

GM Park Avenue - Holden's Chinese Exports
The Buick Park Avenue has a clear
resemblance to the Holden Statesman

GM Park Avenue - Holden's Chinese Exports
Unlike the Australian versions of the
large car, the Chinese Buick Park Ave
will feature a passenger focussed interior

Melbourne, Australia — Large car sales in Australia are not what they used to be. Factors like fuel consumption, carbon emissions and resale value are becoming increasingly important to new car buyers, and what once used to be the cash cow for Holden and Ford - the Commodore and Falcon large cars - are now having to secure their long-term survival by other means.

As local sales drop, one of the keys to the survival for both the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are exports.

Ford's upcoming 2008 model Falcon - an all-new model with a new look, and a new platform (but similar engines) - is expected to be engineered so that left-hand drive models can be easily manufactured for exports into foreign markets, such as North America and Europe, and may even use a number of future Mustang parts to reduce costs.

GM Holden, meanwhile, has been exporting vehicles and engines around the world more successfully than Ford Australia, and following recent news that GM Holden will begin exporting its luxury Caprice to Korea (rebadged as a Daewoo L4X), Holden has just secured what could one of its biggest deals yet: exports to China.

According to GM Holden, the company will export two versions of the Global V6 engines to China, which will be fitted in the new Buick Park Avenue, which is being built by Shanghai General Motors.

Holden has revealed that the new engine export program is expected to be worth several hundred million dollars to GM Holden over the next few years, which bodes well for the future of its local large car manufacturing facilities.

GM Holden's managing director, Denny Mooney, had this to say: "The Buick Park Avenue is another exciting step in the worldwide adoption of the global rear-wheel drive architecture developed here in Australia and is a valuable export program for GM Holden in the world’s fastest growing auto market. Our engine export program generated over $570 million in revenue in 2006 alone and this will be a further boost to this key area of our business.

"With today’s announcement of these engine exports to Shanghai GM, our engine production plant in Victoria is supplying customers in markets as diverse as Italy, South Korea, Germany, Thailand, South Africa, Sweden and China. Australia’s role in the forthcoming Chevrolet Camaro for the US market, and now the Buick Park Avenue for China, underlines how Australian design and engineering expertise is playing a lead role in General Motor’s worldwide vehicle production," said Mr Mooney.

As well as using both the 3.6-litre and a unique 2.8-litre V6 engines, both to be built in Victoria, Australia, the Buick Park Avenue is the first vehicle to go into production outside Australia that will utilise the global rear-wheel drive architecture (or Zeta platform) developed by GM Holden. We recently reported that GM's head of new car development, Bob Lutz, poured cold water on plans to use the Australian-developed platform (which also underpins the VE Commodore) on a number of upcoming American cars, but this is believed to be a knee-jerk reaction to new emissions laws proposed by the White House in America. General Motors insiders are still confident that the global rear-wheel drive architecture will be the platform of choice for a number of new North American built cars in the future.

Getting back to the Chinese export news, and Holden has confirmed that the Buick Park Avenue vehicle is based on the Holden Statesman, which is already a popular export vehicle in the Middle East and New Zealand. Holden explained that the Buick Park Avenue will be built at Shanghai GM's Jinqiao plant will have an exterior based on the Holden Statesman, while the interior will be completely redesigned by GM China in order to suit the local market.

GM Holden's specialist rear wheel drive engineering expertise has also been called upon to engineer the car to serve as a luxury limousine catering more for rear seat passengers, rather than the sports luxury, driver-orientated vehicle that is currently produced in Australia.

GM Daewoo L4X

As was mentioned earlier in this article, GM Holden's long wheel based Statesman and Caprice models appear to be winning fans right across the glob, and the recent confirmation of a production version of GM Daewoo's L4X is more good news for the Australian large car industry. Holden explains the L4X is scheduled to go on sale in Korea in 2008, based on GM Holden's successful WM Caprice.

The new vehicle, which will be tailored to the needs of the Korean market, will be built at GM Holden’s vehicle assembly plant in Elizabeth with the Global V6 engine coming from the company’s engine operations at Fishermans Bend in Victoria.

Denny Mooney, GM Holden's managing director, said, "This is another example of General Motors' ability to leverage its global resources to satisfy a local market need. GM Daewoo and its customers will benefit from GM Holden's acknowledged expertise in developing and manufacturing rear wheel drive vehicles. With our new VE and WM ranges, we designed and engineered them to appeal to both local and overseas markets. We are starting to see the returns from that with our Australian–built cars currently being exported to every continent except Antarctica."

This is the second vehicle export arrangement between GM Daewoo and GM Holden. In 2005 GM Holden exported nearly 2000 of the previous model WL Holden Statesman to Korea which was marketed as the GM Daewoo Statesman. Other vehicles manufactured by GM Holden were sold overseas in 2006 under the GM brands of Chevrolet (Brazil, Middle East, and South Africa), Pontiac (United States), and Holden (New Zealand).

"Exports of cars and engines continue to be a core component of GM Holden's future strategy for growth and today's confirmation of new exports to Korea further expands our growing presence in overseas markets," concluded Mr Mooney.

Related articles:
Holden Commodore SS V vs Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo (Road Test)
Holden VE Commodore vs Ford BF Falcon (Road Test)
Holden Astra Diesel (Road Test)
Holden Barina (Road Test)
Holden Astra SRi Turbo (Road Test)
- Holden VE Commodore - Dual-Fuel LPG (2006)
Holden Captiva (2006)
Holden - Melbourne Motor Show (2006)
- Sydney Motor Show (2006)

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