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Published 11 February 2013 10:02, Updated 10 April 2013 07:32
Holden’s new VF Calais V. Holden has made a determined push to take the one-time workhorse of Australian motoring several notches upmarket, pitching more to “aspirational’ buyers. Photo: Chris Norman
GM Holden will use its new VF Commodore to lead an export push to the United States, where it will be sold as the Chevrolet SS Sports Sedan by its parent, General Motors.
Holden unveiled the new model on Sunday and is pushing to take the brand upmarket, pitching it to “aspirational” buyers rather than families, who have increasingly opted for sports utility vehicles.
“Our aim with the new VF Commodore was to create a car that challenges some of the broader perceptions people have about the traditional Australian-made large car,” Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said.
Exports of locally-made cars have been squeezed by the strong Australian dollar, but Mr Devereux said the new Commodore showed that overseas sales could still be achieved with a world-class product.
Interior of the Commodore VF Calais V.Photo: Chris Norman
“Globally, General Motors will be very nicely profitable on the VF program,” he said. “We wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”
On Friday, Mr Devereux stressed that Holden would stick with the Commodore name after the current model was replaced in 2016 by a global large car used elsewhere by General Motors.
The shift to a so-called world car is expected to require less input from Holden’s Melbourne-based design and engineering team, but Mr Devereux insisted that such work would continue.
“We’ve already started to invest capital and making facilities improvements in the Adelaide facility for the next decade to build things beyond VF Commodore, and yes, to build the next Commodore after this one,” he said.
Holden has argued that $275 million in funding announced last year by federal and state governments would secure its Adelaide manufacturing plant for a decade, while generating $1 billion in direct investment by the car maker.
Mr Devereux declined to give a figure on how much the new model had cost to develop but said it would generate about $2 billion in economic activity through to 2016.
The Gillard government has blocked freedom of information requests from The Australian Financial Review for details of taxpayer funding for the global car makers with Australia operations – GM, Ford and Toyota.
Holden design director Andrew Smith said the aim had been to “overdeliver” for the Commodore’s price point. “Consequently, there’s a level of refinement you’d expect of a high-end European product,” he said.
Interior of the VF Calais V.Photo: Chris Norman
The new model has a revamped front and rear, but the biggest changes are to the interior with interactive technology.
This includes parking assist for both parallel and 90-degree angle parking, an “infotainment” system which is a joint venture with Microsoft, keyless entry and start, plus a windscreen information display.
This story first appeared on The Australian Financial Review
Rear view of the VF Calais V.Photo: Chris Norman